There are solutions to the plastic pollution crisis beyond recycling

Quick  – what was the last thing you bought that didn’t come packaged with some form of plastic? It isn’t an easy question to answer. It has become increasingly difficult for Canadians to buy the things they need – household goods, groceries, clothing – without leaving a mountain of plastic in their recycling bins. A mountain that largely – 92 per cent each year to be exact – ends up in landfills, incinerators and our ecosystems. 

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Last week, we released Recycling Failure, a report that found Canada is generating 2.1 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste each year and will still generate up to 2 million tonnes in 2030, despite setting a goal of zero plastic waste by 2030 and banning six single-use plastics. So why are we still producing, consuming and throwing away so much plastic? 

Canada is struggling to eliminate plastic waste because federal and provincial governments are relying almost exclusively on recycling to solve this crisis. The federal government relies on provincial waste policies to deal with plastic, but those provincial systems are not capable of properly recycling the sheer volume and variety of plastic being thrown into recycling bins. Eight provinces and all three territories got a failing grade in our Report Card that evaluated their policies on plastic waste. Only BC and PEI passed. 

Simply put, it is not possible for recycling to eliminate plastic waste. And no amount of wishing for recycling to save us is going to do the trick. While we still need to put recyclable materials into our recycling bins or bags, governments at all levels need to adjust their approach and enforce changes to which plastic is sold and how it is used.

Tell the federal government and your MP to focus on the top two of the three Rs – reduce and reuse!

The federal government must ban more unnecessary single-use plastics until all non-reused and recycled plastics are phased out by 2030. Reusable packaging and containers need to be more available, affordable and convenient for everyone.

Together, we can keep the federal government focused on the right priorities:

  • Expand the single-use plastic bans to include additional problematic and unnecessary items, such as takeout beverage cups and lids.
  • Require products and packaging to be reused/refilled and ensure local systems are in place to make reuse/refill widely available and affordable. 
  • Eliminate toxic plastic additives that pose a risk to our health and make recycling unsafe
  • Reject false solutions that are polluting and energy-intensive, including the burning of plastic waste as fuel.

With your support, we can end the Canadian plastic pollution crisis. 

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