Plastic pollution meets climate damage

When you’re talking to your candidate for the federal election, ask them what they’re doing to get to zero plastic waste. Every stage in the lifecycle of plastics is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions – extracting and transporting fossil fuels as feedstock, refining, manufacturing of the plastic products, use of the plastic products and waste disposal.

Earlier this year, I was impressed by the excellent report issued by the Center for International Environmental Law showing plastic as among the most significant and rapidly growing sources of industrial greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019 alone, CIEL reported that the production and incineration of plastic will add more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere—equal to the pollution from 189 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants.

Friends of the Earth went out to Canadians through a national poll to find out whether they saw the plastics/climate combo as a platform for action.  We heard a resounding yes!

Eighty-six percent of Canadians, with residents of Quebec, BC and Ontario most in favour, say that Canada needs to take more action to combat plastic pollution as a way to reduce harmful greenhouse gases. Those aged 18-34 are 90% in favour with 35-64 at 86% and 65+ at 80%.  Results were also strong across all party lines but lower among Conservatives and People’s Party backers.

While the attention of Canadians and people around the world has been riveted by damage to vulnerable ocean wildlife by plastic pollution, more recently we’ve learned that plastic pollution is found in our fresh water, soil, food and, even, in human feces.  90% of our poll respondents ranked groundwater sources and drinking water as their highest concern when it comes to the impact of plastic pollution followed closely by 87% concerned over soil quality and food eaten and 74% with long term human health.

A solid 80% of poll respondents said that Canada should ban the production and use of single-use disposable plastic containers and packaging.  77% felt that Canada should extend its microbeads ban to include all plastic pollution that goes down drains and toilets including “flushable” wipes.

Canada frequently applies the polluter pays principle and this holds true when we asked the public who should pay – 66% said manufacturers and retailers should pay to clean up plastic pollution.

No one says that it’s easy to turn off a plastic pollution pipeline but it is necessary. And the public will clearly support politicians who step up to challenge. Ask your candidate now if he/she is willing to shut down the plastic pollution pipeline. We need a zero emissions future and that means zero plastic waste.

Read the poll results

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