For immediate release: November 23rd, 2018

Statement from Environmental Defence’s Programs Director Keith Brooks on Canada’s Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste

Toronto, Ont. – Canada’s plastic strategy, released today, says all the right things. It recognizes that dumping plastics into our environment must end, it speaks to the economic and employment benefits of more recycling and less waste, and it commits Canada to putting an end to plastic pollution and moving toward a circular economy. We congratulate the provinces, territories and federal government for agreeing to this strategy and vision.

But the strategy document fails to commit to any concrete actions or set any targets except for an “aspirational” waste reduction goal. The strategy also fails to identify any legislative or regulatory tools that the federal, provincial and territorial governments intend to use to implement the vision of zero plastic waste.

The strategy does promise a future action plan. That plan needs to be released as soon as possible, and it must contain commitments from all of the provinces and territories. We urge the federal government to release a draft for consultation this winter and finalize it in the spring of 2019.

Countries around the world are already taking decisive action to reduce plastic pollution. India announced it would eliminate all single-use plastics by 2022. Kenya brought into force one of the world’s most comprehensive plastic bag bans. And the EU announced a bold plan to ban most single-use plastics by 2021 and to capture and recycle 90 per cent of other plastics by 2025.

Canada is falling behind. It’s time to do something about this country’s embarrassingly low 11 per cent plastics recycling rate. More animals are dying with stomachs full of coffee cups, straws, and plastic bags; toxic chemicals are leaching into our drinking water, and plastic waste is literally piling up around us. If Canada is serious about tackling plastic pollution, we need to see real targets and a willingness to enforce them.

While the action plan is being developed and consulted on, the federal government needs to get moving on the things that are within its power. They should start with:

  • Bans on plastics that can’t be efficiently recycled, or that contain toxic chemicals;
  • Setting a legally binding 85 per cent recycling target for single-use plastics by 2025;
  • Establishing a 75 per cent minimum recycled content standard for single-use plastics, to drive the use of recycled materials in the creation of new plastic products;
  • Legislation that makes producers financially and operationally responsible for collecting and recycling their products; and
  • Support for developing countries as they build the legal frameworks necessary to keep plastic out of the environment.


About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Rachel Kitchin, Environmental Defence; 416-805-0026; rkitchin@environmentaldefence.ca