Plastic pollution is a serious global threat to the environment and economy. Yesterday's announcement that Canada will ban single-use plastics, make companies responsible for plastic waste, and invest to grow recycling across the country, is a comprehensive approach to address plastic pollution across the country.
“The environmental costs and economic losses of plastic pollution has hit a tipping point with more than 90 per cent of nearly 5,000 kilotonnes of plastic generated lost to disposal,” says Jo- Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario. “By taking a multi-pronged approach— product bans, producer responsibility, support for innovation and research, and most of all reducing plastic in its own operations—the Government of Canada has made a positive and critical first step.”
While there is no single solution to addressing plastic waste, the combination of initiatives will position Canada in a place of domestic and international leadership. The Government of Canada also sets an example by looking internally and leveraging its own purchasing and procurement power to shift markets by reducing reliance on single-use plastic and increasing usage of products that contain recycled material.
The announcement also contains initiatives that strike the right balance of economic, environment, and social considerations:
• Banning specific items that are proven to be impossible to recycle, and lost to disposal and litter, will create better alternatives.
• Making producers that manufacture, manage, and market products and packaging that do not have systematic recycling options at end-of-life has the greatest potential to shift markets for greater efficiency.
• Introducing standards and targets for recycling will allow for progress to be measured, which has historically been lacking.
• Conducting research and working collaboratively across value and supply chains will uncover new and better ways on how we produce, use, and manage products and services.
“We now fully understand the environmental and social costs of plastic pollution, however, have long understated the economic costs of our take-make-dispose lifestyles where millions of dollars of worth of material is lost to disposal. By banning single-use items and making producers that bring material to market financially responsibly, we will encourage innovation that will address the long-term damage that plastic pollution has on our environment.
“We look forward to working with the Government of Canada, as well as jurisdictions and organizations from across the country, to reduce and eradicate plastic waste.”