Smothered by tar and wrapped in plastic: EAC, Greenpeace, clean Turtle Grove (Tufts Cove) beach in Halifax on World Clean Up Day and discover marine plastic, garbage, and oil

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, September 15, 2018 

K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – “We expected to find marine debris and plastic, but the amount and diversity of waste we actually found at Turtle Grove, unceded Mi’kmaq territory, surprised all of us,” said Mark Butler, Policy Director at Ecology Action Centre, “on top of the plastic waste – large and micro-sized pieces -  we found oil, mostly in the form of tar, covering rocks and the shoreline at low tide – in some places 12 cm deep. I've been doing beach cleanups for 23 years and this is one of the dirtiest urban beaches I've encountered in the HRM - it is time to place more responsibility on the producers of these products.”

Nova Scotia Power admitted responsibility for leaking ~24,000 litres of the dirtiest oil into our harbour, but what was found along the beach just 200 meters from the “containment” zone suggests oil has been entering our harbour for years. Tar, oil clumps, and stained rocks, cover this small section of the beach at low tide.  

Billions of single-use, throwaway plastic packaged products and disposable plastic items are produced, used and become trash every year in Canada. Only about 10-12% is actually recycled. The rest goes to landfill, is burned or ends up in the environment. The Canadian government notes that in 2010, Canada released 8000 tonnes of plastic waste into the oceans from land, contributing up to 12.7 million tonnes entering the oceans globally each year.

On World Cleanup Day this Saturday, September 15th, Greenpeace Canada and Ecology Action Centre added an extra investigative component to their cleanup event by conducting Plastic Polluters Brand Audits. These audits seek to identify the major corporate contributors to plastic waste polluting shorelines, green spaces and communities.  

Greenpeace Canada’s Oceans & Plastics spokesperson Brigid Rowan underlines that the Canadian government and corporations need to go beyond half-measures and putting the onus on individuals to clean up corporate waste: “You can’t stop an overflowing bathtub by mopping up the water with cotton balls, you need to the turn the tap off. Plastic pollution is no different - we need to stop it at the source. Corporations push mass production and consumption of throwaway, single-use plastic products, leaving little alternative for consumers. We all suffer from plastic pollution in our communities and green spaces, but corporations have created the problem in the first place. Our Plastic Polluters Brand Audits help shine a light on the companies responsible for much of the problem and is a reminder to governments who must be held accountable.”

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) must be prioritized in national and international policy; no longer can the majority of the responsibility be placed on the consumer or the recycling industry – if you make it, you recycle it. We must follow the waste back to where it originated and stop it there. The Plastic Charter developed by G7 nations in Charlevoix, Quebec earlier this year does not go far enough to hold industry accountable, and gives far too much flexibility for disposal and incineration options. G7 group meetings in Halifax this week must take a firmer stand.

PRESS CONFERENCE AND PHOTO OPPORTUNITY DETAILS: 

Date: Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Time: 8:00 a.m. photo opportunity at low tide; 1:00 p.m. press conference with samples of waste and oil.

Location: Please arrive at Shannon Park School parking lot, located off Iroquois Drive north west of the school: 75 Iroquois Drive, Dartmouth, NS B3A 4M5.

Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/aMMnrP34AuE2

Volunteers will meet and greet you at a Registration table in the parking lot, and guide and assist you to the beach location and the press conference location; both locations are ~600 meters from the parking lot; the beach location is not accessible and requires ~50m of walking on relatively steep and uneven paths

Speakers:

  • Brigid Rowan, Co-Chair of Greenpeace Canada's Board
  • Mark Butler, Ecology Action Centre Policy Director
  • Rebecca Brushett, EAC Marine Campaign Coordinator

BACKGROUND:

As part of World Cleanup Day on September 15, Greenpeace Canada will be partnering with organizations in four cities across the country to conduct the first ever Plastic Polluters Brand Audit of Canada’s shorelines and green spaces. Brand Audits identify the major corporations whose plastic waste is polluting Canadian communities, waterways, lakes and oceans. The Ecology Action Centre joins as the host of the Halifax event.

The results of the global and national audits will be released at the beginning of October. Members of the press are encouraged to attend the events to capture images of the story as it unfolds, for a chance to talk with our campaigners as well as volunteers about our brand auditing methods and the purpose of these activities.

You can also visit the Halifax event page on Facebook for more details.

As part of the audit events, Greenpeace will join a global social media campaign tagging the waste back to its corporate owners using #IsThisYours.

Brand audit events will be taking place on five continents, led by various Greenpeace offices and ally groups in the global Break Free From Plastic movement. Greenpeace Canada is proud to also be coordinating audits in Vancouver with Surfrider Foundation Vancouver and in Toronto with Don’t Mess with the DonStop Plastics and Strawless Toronto. In Montréal, plastic waste will be collected from Mission 10 Tonnes volunteers to be audited on September 16th. Surfrider Pacific Rim will also be conducting an audit in Tofino and sharing results.  

Data collected through previous international brand audits confirmed that some of the world’s largest corporations are top contributors to single-use plastic (SUP) pollution worldwide. Many of these corporations including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, Pepsi and others sell well-known brands in Canada. The compiled results from the global audits and the Canadian audits will be released in early October.

In April of this year, Greenpeace Canada launched a Toolkit for a Plastic-free Future offering various ways for people to take action to help stop plastic pollution at the source in their communities. The Toolkit includes a section on Brand Audits that offers a how-to guide on adding a brand audit component to any cleanup.

Add your voice to Canada’s consultation here

For all media related queries, to request photos or to book interviews, please contact:

Ecology Action Centre
communications@ecologyaction.ca 

Loujain Kurdi
Greenpeace Canada
loujain.kurdi@greenpeace.org
514-577-6657

 

Additional Images Available Upon Request: