Environmentalists are demanding that Ontario’s big bottlers take responsibility for their plastic waste, and support a deposit on plastic bottles

Toronto, Ont. – It’s time for Ontario’s big beverage companies to stop treating the province like a landfill site, and agree to take back their trash through a deposit return program on plastic containers.

Two years ago, in a letter to Environmental Defence, the Canadian Beverage Association’s member companies refused to support a deposit on plastic bottles in Ontario, claiming they had a better plan to tackle plastic pollution. We have yet to see that plan, or any improvement in Ontario’s recycling rate. Now, environmentalists are once again calling on the big bottlers to step up and support a deposit return program in Ontario, rather than standing in its way.

“Right now, Ontario has the lowest collection rate for plastic bottles in Canada,” said Environmental Defence’s Plastics Program Manager, Vito Buonsante. “A deposit program is the only known way to keep over a billion plastic bottles out of the environment and landfills every year. The government has said they want to act; now industry needs to take the initiative, and jump before they’re pushed. Just doing the bare minimum for the environment is no longer enough.”

Every year, producers sell around three billion single-use plastic bottles in Ontario. Less than half of those are recycled. The rest are sent to landfills, or end up in the province’s environment and waterways. A deposit program would ensure that producers collect their plastic bottles so they can be recycled as new containers. Last week, a report by environmental consultancy Eunomia revealed that a deposit system collecting 90 per cent of plastic containers in Ontario would save nearly 118,000 tonnes of plastic from landfill every year, and reduce litter from plastic bottles by as much as 80 per cent. It would only cost less than one cent per bottle to implement.

“Big beverage companies like Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Pepsi make billions of dollars every year selling their products, but taxpayers have to pick up the bill for cleanups and landfilling,” said Buonsante. “Deposit programs are effective, popular and cheap to implement. There are no reasons left for them not to support one in Ontario.”

Quick facts:

  • An estimated 10,000 tonnes of plastic pollution enter the Great Lakes every year
  • A survey by Angus Reid on behalf of Environmental Defence found that 88 per cent of Ontarians were in favour of a deposit on plastic bottles
  • Plastic bottles are the second most littered item in Canada and plastic caps are the fourth
  • A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by weight
  • Deposit return programs on plastic bottles currently exist in every province in Canada except Ontario and Manitoba
  • Norway collects 95% of plastic containers through a deposit return scheme run by producers
  • The European Union has set a mandatory 90% collection target for plastic bottles.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Rachel Kitchin, Communications Manager; rkitchin@environmentaldefence.ca