The report outlines six tactics for tackling plastic waste, including bans, fees, and deposit return programs

Toronto, Ont. — A new report provides the first overarching blueprint for Canada’s federal, provincial, and municipal governments on how they can reduce plastic pollution. The report, No Time to Waste: Six Ways Canada Can Progress to Zero Plastic Waste by 2025, released today by Environmental Defence, outlines six immediate steps that governments can take to drastically decrease waste caused by single-use plastics.

“Single-use plastics continue to be a massive contributor to the world’s plastic pollution crisis,” said Vito Buonsante, Plastics Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “Canada can be a world leader in turning the tide on this problem, but it’s not simply a matter of better recycling or banning certain plastic items. We need a comprehensive reduction strategy to make plastic waste a thing of the past.”

As described in the first-of-its-kind report, the six steps that Canada can take from now to 2025 to reduce its single-use plastics footprint are as follows:

  1. Collect better data on the amounts and types of plastic packaging that are introduced into the market: including creating benchmarks for Canada’s progress towards zero plastic waste and introducing consistent reporting requirements for producers and standardized definitions for reuse, recycling, and recovery.
  2. Ban unnecessary and non-recyclable single-use plastics: including plastics that have substitutes (such as plastic stirrers, plates, bowls, cutlery, and lightweight plastic bags) and ones that have harmful chemicals like polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
  3. Use deposit return programs to collect single-use plastic containers: such as bottles, jars, drink boxes, coffee cups, and pouches to help meet ambitious recovery targets.
  4. Support innovations to shift towards reusing plastic packaging and other plastic items: so plastic items are used as many times as possible during their lifecycle.
  5. Use economic instruments to discourage consumers from using single-use plastics: such as fees for take-out containers and coffee cups.
  6. Support the recycling industry through minimum recycled content requirements: to help stimulate demand for recycled plastics and to justify further investment in better recycling infrastructures and technologies.  

“The good news is that Canada doesn’t have to start from scratch to figure out how to solve its plastic pollution problem,” said Buonsante. “There are many good initiatives already happening in different parts of the world, some of which have been voluntarily adopted by big companies. There’s no reason why we can’t also use them here.”

Canada is a significant contributor to the world’s plastic pollution problem. Every year, 4.5 million tonnes of plastic are introduced to the Canadian market. Only nine per cent of it is recycled. Earlier this year, the federal government released its assessment that found that 29,000 tonnes of plastics escape into Canada’s environment annually. These plastics cause harm to wildlife through entanglement or ingestion.

Back in 2019, the federal government announced it plans to launch a package of measures to reduce single-use plastic waste and to hold companies accountable for the waste they generate through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). There is no time to waste. The federal government needs to pick up its pace if it plans to ban certain single-use plastics by 2021 and turn its promise into reality.

 The Environmental Defence report No Time to Waste: Six Ways Canada Can Progress to Zero Plastic Waste by 2025 can be downloaded at environmentaldefence.ca/NoTimeToWasteReport.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (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:

Jen Mayville, Communications Manager, Environmental Defence, jmayville@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext. 228, cell: 905-330-0172