Certain people living in Canada are at increased risk of cancer, water poisoning and toxic air emissions from plastic production, use and waste 

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – Today, Environmental Defence launched an immersive website to reveal the full impact of plastic pollution in Canada. The site takes visitors through the stages of the life cycle of plastics, from extraction of fossil fuels that are used to make plastic to the dispersal of microplastics. In particular, it emphasizes the disproportionate impacts of the lifecycle of plastics on BIPOC communities that tend to live near fossil extraction, manufacturing and disposal sites.

“One of the most striking examples of this environmental racism is the fact that there is more than 100 times the amount of cancer-causing benzene in the air in Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, ON, than in Toronto or Ottawa,” said Karen Wirsig, Senior Program Manager for plastics at Environmental Defence. “Sarnia—and Aamjiwnaang—are at the centre of petrochemical refining and plastic production in Canada and polluters are not being held accountable.”

The everyday use of plastic also puts vulnerable people, especially babies and toddlers, at risk of health effects from microplastics and harmful chemical additives in packaging. This is all the more concerning since three quarters of items in the baby food aisles are now packaged in plastic.

“Until now, when people thought of plastic pollution, they tended to think of litter and landfills or the ocean garbage patches, but that only tells a part of the story,” Wirsig added. “Plastic pollution begins long before the landfill and continues long after. There are toxic impacts on communities—particularly Indigenous peoples—at every stage of plastic production and use in Canada. By ignoring things like microplastics and the extraction of oil and gas we miss the measures needed to truly stop the pollution that harms the environment and human health.”

The website also provides opportunities for visitors to support efforts to eliminate pollution at the various stages of the life cycle of plastics.

The immersive website can be visited at BeyondTheLandfill.ca

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental 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 request an interview, please contact:

Lauren Thomas, Environmental Defence, media@environmentaldefence.ca