Canada is taking steps to address our plastic waste | Ecology Action Centre

Canada is taking steps to address our plastic waste

Photo credit: A Davey

"A report done earlier this year by consulting firms Deloitte and ChemInfo Services, and commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada, found that in 2016, only nine per cent of plastic waste was recycled in Canada and 87 per cent ended up in landfills." - Source: CBC News, June 10, 2019

Canada is taking steps to address our plastic waste. On June 10, 2019, the Federal Government announced it will ban single-use plastics and introduce extended producer responsibility, which makes manufacturers responsible for the products they make.

The Federal announcement lacks details, and implementation could take two years or longer. However, a scientific assessment of plastic in the environment is already underway.

They are considering banning plastic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Doing so would classify plastic as a toxin and regulate it as such. While we tend not to think of plastic as a toxin, science is revealing the long-term impacts of micro-plastics on wildlife, the environment and on human health.

Reducing plastic use in Canada, and recycling the plastic we do use, are critical steps in addressing this problem.

Much of the recent concern around plastics has emanated from growing plastic pollution in our oceans – according to ICUN, plastics make up 80% of all marine debris. In Atlantic Canada, our fishing industry is a major source of ocean plastic. Extended Producer Responsibility would require companies making fishing gear to take more responsibility.  Along with education and stricter enforcement, extended producer responsibility for fishing gear will be the most effective way to reduce the loss of fishing gear, such as rope and traps.

Moving forward, it’s key that the Federal Government work with provinces and municipalities while resisting any efforts from other levels of government or the plastics industry to weaken regulations. Following the lead of the European Union is important.

The Ecology Action Centre first got its start as an initiative to increase recycling in Halifax nearly 50 years ago.  We’re thankful to our members for making their voices heard by signing petitions, making phone calls and sending emails. Canadians have clearly expressed their concern about plastic pollution. We salute the many groups and initiatives that have sprung up across Nova Scotia and Canada to reduce our use of plastics and prevent further plastic pollution – together, our actions are having big impacts.