Friends of the Earth welcomes plastics pollution initiatives announced by Canada

Filed in Media releases by on June 11, 2019

Statement from Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada:

Yesterday, Canada’s PM and Environment Minister announced a suite of initiatives to reduce plastic pollution and invest in innovations.  Friends of the Earth Canada welcomes this suite of measures starting with the intention to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021 with regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Regulations will give clear signals to all that we must act across the board to reduce these single use plastic products that are harmful to human health, wildlife and the environment.  The State of the Science Assessment is critical to strong regulation and we look forward to the findings of this work.

The research commissioned by the Federal Government reveals a shocking lack of recycling and reuse for plastic waste in Canada.  With only 9% of plastic waste recycled and 86% deposited in landfills with one percent at large in the environment, we have an enormous challenge of managing what is, essentially, hazardous waste at large in the environment and as a legacy issue in our landfills.

Like the EU, Canada has recognized that plastic waste is more than a local waste disposal issue. We think it is critical that the cost to deal with end-of-life plastics is born by manufacturers and retailers – so we welcome the commitment to implement Extended Producer Responsibility whereby the government plans to work with the provinces and territories to set targets for plastic collection, recycling and recycled content requirements.

We want to see the federal government walking their talk – their commitment to get their own house in order is good at 75% reduction of plastic waste from federal operations by 2030 but we would prefer a 100% zero waste target here.

There is much to be learned about plastics in our environment. The plan to accelerate research along the lifecycle of plastic and on the impacts of plastic pollution on humans, wildlife and the environment must be a long term commitment to scientific capacity for evidence-based decision making.

Friends of the Earth looks forward to working with Canadians to reject our throw-away society and design instead one with durable, safe, reusable products and minimal packaging. Newfoundland and PEI bans on plastic bags are a commendable start but we have a long way to go.

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