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The Issue

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.

In a study published in Science Advance, researchers estimate since the 1950s 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been generated around the world and only 9 per cent of those plastics have been recycled. It is estimated that an additional 12 billion tonnes of plastic will be lost to disposal by 2050.

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This food waste is worth an estimated $27 billion each year. This indicates that significant opportunities exist for businesses along food value chains to streamline their operations, reduce food waste, and increase profit, while making better use of scarce resources, managing risk, and reducing their environmental footprint. Despite recent initiatives by companies and industry associations, the Canadian agri-food industry lacks a coordinated approach to addressing food waste.

Be honest: How often do you throw away food? Maybe that can of peas has gone past the expiry date, or maybe that bunch of carrots doesn’t look as fresh as it should. Most likely, you toss it in the garbage.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 1.3 billion tonnes of food gets wasted each year, with fruits and vegetables accounting for the highest amount of food wasted.

In Canada, we’re no different.

In Canada, $31 billion worth of food ends up in landfills or composters each year, according to a 2014 report from Value Chain Management International. It's part of a global problem where 1.3 billion tonnes of food gets thrown out each year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

“The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world...second only to oil,” the recipient of an environmental award told a stunned Manhattan audience earlier this year. “It’s a really nasty business...it’s a mess.”

While you’d never hear an oil tycoon malign his bonanza in such a way, the woman who stood at the podium, Eileen Fisher, is a clothing industry magnate. 

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