Recycling alone won’t solve the global plastic problem.
Drowning in Plastic Packaging
A new report from Oceana, an international charity focused on ocean conservation, warns that Canada is disproportionately contributing to the global plastic disaster. Although Canadians make up less than 0.5% of the global population, we consume 1.4% of all plastic produced, at an annual rate of 4.6 million tonnes – and growing.
About 50% of all the plastic we throw out is single-use packaging. The report calls on Canada to shift its mindset and put an end to the throwaway culture:
“Attempts to increase recycling rates while increasing plastic use and production simply won’t work. The real solution lies in minimizing the amount of single-use plastics used and discarded. There’s no time to waste.”
The authors argue that solving the plastic problem will take a suite of actions, including banning unnecessary single-use plastics, boosting non-plastic alternatives and reuse opportunities, and stopping the export of plastic waste to developing nations through loophole-free international treaties.
But there’s good news…
Canada Single-Use Plastic Ban Incoming
On October 7, 2020 the Government of Canada announced the next steps in its plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.
Importantly, the plan signals the government’s intention to add “plastic manufactured items” to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, effectively classifying certain plastics as “toxic materials” and opening the door for stronger regulations.
“Our plan embraces the transition towards a circular economy, recycled-content standards and targets for recycling rates. We also intend to ban plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and hard-to-recycle take out containers. These items are harmful to our environment and their value is lost from the economy when they are tossed in the trash. This proposed ban will help drive innovation across the country as new and easier to recycle items take their place in our economy.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
From Science to Solutions
All of the leading ocean plastics researchers, from Oceana, to Dr. Chelsea Rochman and CLEAR, are saying the same thing – we must drastically stem the flow of plastics at the source. As Dr. Max Liboiron of CLEAR recently told CBC:
“If you ran into your bathroom and your bathtub’s running over, do you turn off your taps first and get the mop? Or do you get the mop, and sort of just leave the tap running? Of course, you turn off the tap”
Join us at #ZWC20 for a keynote conversation with the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change (invited) and Dr. Chelsea Rochman, one of Canada’s leading scientists at the University of Toronto, to explore how Canada can rise to the challenge of tackling plastic pollution in one generation.
2020 Zero Waste Conference:
Resiliency, Prosperity, Carbon Neutrality – The Circular Economy Solution
November 13, 2020