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Plastics

Today, federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers agreed to work collectively toward a common goal of zero plastic waste. To this end, they approved in principle a Canada-wide strategy on zero plastic waste, which outlines a vision to keep all plastics in the economy and out of the environment.

The millions of tons of plastic swirling around the world’s oceans have garnered a lot of media attention recently. But plastic pollution arguably poses a bigger threat to the plants and animals – including humans – who are based on land.

Very little of the plastic we discard every day is recycled or incinerated in waste-to-energy facilities. Much of it ends up in landfills, where it may take up to 1,000 years to decompose, leaching potentially toxic substances into the soil and water.

Single-use plastics have become a scourge on the planet, and the amount of plastic in the ocean could outweigh the amount of fish by 2050, the federal government says.

Canadians generate about 3.25 million tonnes of plastic waste, or about 140,000 garbage trucks' worth, each year, according to Greenpeace Canada.

The federal government has yet to introduce any policies at the national level aimed at curbing plastics waste, though Canada was one of five nations that agreed to a G7 plastics charter on Sunday.

Focus on these three areas of your life to see the biggest returns.

My friend and I were standing in a crowded local pub last weekend, waiting for a band to start playing, when he said to me, "You need to write a step-by-step guide to giving up plastic." "I've already done that!" I replied, thinking of the numerous articles I've written on going zero waste, but he shook his head. "I don't know where to start. You need to break it down even further, telling me exactly what needs to change and where I can get plastic-free alternatives."

Canadians use between 9 and 15 billion plastic bags a year - that's enough to circle the globe a whopping 55 times. And that's a lot of oil being used to make single-use bags that are discarded a few minutes after use. Going plastic-free can be a challenge - and that's no joke. Plastic is everywhere.

Takeout is a great way to skip cooking and the dishes. But it often comes with a side of guilt about all the waste — much of it Styrofoam or black plastic that are non-recyclable in most cities across Canada.

The good news, given that it's Waste Reduction Week in Canada, is there are a growing number of options for zero-waste takeout, including some high-tech systems that could one day be deployed across entire cities to make throwaway containers obsolete.

Canada’s one-stop resource for taking action on plastic waste - Coming April 2019

Canadians are keenly aware of the consequences tied to plastic waste and are eager to learn how they can reduce the impact of choices they make as individuals, businesses, and governments.

Despite the increasing interest in plastics and reducing its environmental impacts there is no single national repository that provides governments, businesses, educators, researchers, and citizens the necessary scope of information to take meaningful action:

Planet or Plastic? is National Geographic’s multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis. Come to this page often to learn more, find out what you can do to reduce your own single-use plastics and take your pledge.

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