Thank you to all who signed our petition asking the province to #BanTheBag and to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility for other thin-film plastic. The petition was delivered to Nova Scotia Environment on Friday, January 18, 2019.
With China’s import ban on plastics from around the world, areas like Nova Scotia are being left with a build-up of various types of plastic including thin film plastic. As Nova Scotian’s, we need to call for renewed provincial commitment, as part of the National Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), agreed to in 2009.
This includes, reduction through plastic bag bans and holding companies responsible who design and manufacture products from beginning to end. The ocean, land, and creatures that live there can all benefit from less plastic. There has never been a better opportunity to reach out to provincial and municipal elected officials to let them know you support strong waste reduction and recycling programs including a ban on plastic bags and ambitious EPR programs.
Don’t waste a crisis, ban the bags!
Globally, there are commitments to reducing single-use plastics, in response to growing evidence of the impact these materials have on our environment and in particular accumulation in the ocean and in the seafood we eat.
Canada generated approximately 34 million tons of non-hazardous waste in 2014, or 950 kg per capita. Waste generation increased by nearly 10% between 2000 and 2014 and it was driven entirely by residential waste, which increased faster than GDP and population. More than two-thirds of produced waste is sent to landfill, a share much higher than the OECD average.
To read more about Canada’s Environmental Performance check out the 2017 OECD Report
All sectors – individuals, the private sector and all three levels of government are needed to make real change on this next wave of waste reduction. Nova Scotia has been a leader in recycling and composting, and the next step is real reduction. This can help us reach our goals under the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act.
Nova Scotian’s used between 300-500 million plastic bags per year, according to an HRM Staff Report. As stated in the Options to Reduce or Eliminate Plastic Shopping Bags Standing Committee Report, we need to support and push for “the Halifax Regional Council to direct the CAO to ensure staff engages with appropriate Nova Scotia Environment staff and members of the Solid Waste-Resource Management Regional Chairs Committee (‘Regional Chairs’) to discuss options for a unified approach to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic shopping bags in all Nova Scotia municipalities”.
Companies designing and manufacturing products should also take some responsibility for the management of their products through extended producer responsibility programs. EPR programs encourage companies to produce more environmentally friendly products. We have suggested an expansion of EPR programs to end-of-life marine supplies, fishing gear and litter. Nova Scotia Department of Environment representatives indicated that they may be open to having an ongoing panel of experts with municipal, private sector, NGO, and academic representation to advise on waste resource management. Your call can make them accountable
How can you help?
EAC is working towards national action as well, but as we know from so much of the work we do, taking action locally is incredibly important. We can reduce or refuse the use of plastic wrap and single-use plastics like plastic bags, plastic cutlery, take-out containers and coffee cups. Both HRM council and provincial MLAs need your support to do the right thing.
To remain a leader in waste diversion requires a continued commitment by citizens, government, and industry to eliminate waste. Write them letters, call or visit them in person with the key message that it is time for Nova Scotia to resume its leadership role; landfilling our plastic bags is not a long term solution and Nova Scotian’s are ready for them to take bold action on banning single use plastics, starting with plastic bags.
If you still want to do more for the environment and are unsure how, check out a couple of these links that can help you start a plastic-free lifestyle:
Your support for change and reduction on plastics has never been so important!
Image 1: A Davey
Image 2: Jason Karn