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November 2, 2023
Toronto, traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples – Canada can reduce its single-use plastic each year by one-third, or 720,000 tonnes – equivalent to the size of 6000 blue whales– according to Breaking the Plastic Cycle, a new, first-of-its-kind federal policy roadmap from Oceana Canada. The report focuses on single-use plastic packaging, which accounts for about half of Canada’s plastic waste, finding that despite population growth and associated demand, a significant reduction is possible using existing federal policy tools. By implementing Oceana Canada’s recommendations, Canada can cap single-use plastic waste by 2026 followed by a downward trajectory for our country’s plastic pollution problem.
Plastic pollution is the second biggest threat to the planet after climate change, according to the United Nations, and the two are inherently linked. To meaningfully tackle this crisis and to support the government’s zero-plastic waste vision, Oceana Canada’s roadmap outlines the bold action needed. It was also developed in response to the 90 per cent of Canadians surveyed by Oceana Canada who support the single-use plastic ban.
“Environment and Climate Change Canada took the first step in banning six categories of unnecessary single-use plastics last year and committing to recycled content requirements, improving plastics labelling and reining in plastic at major grocers across Canada,” said Anthony Merante, Oceana Canada’s Plastics Campaigner. “Plastic pollution is massive and needs to be taken seriously. If the government follows our recommendations, by 2040 Canada will prevent the generation of nine million tonnes of plastic waste. Our data shows that population growth will outweigh the impact of low-ambition policies that are slow walked. Only through ambitious, sector-wide action can Canada reduce plastic waste and become a global leader on the path to a plastic-free future.”
Oceana Canada’s recommendations include implementing bans on unnecessary and hard-to-recycle items and pollution prevention (P2) plans for key sectors to establish plastic reduction requirements, refill and reuse provisions, and proven recycling targets. The roadmap identifies the seven sectors that are the greatest sources of single-use plastic collectively generating 41 per cent of plastic packaging waste in Canada. The following actions are recommended for these sectors:
“Urgent government action is needed. We can hit peak plastic as soon as 2026 and reduce production and consumption of single-use plastic in every year that follows,” says Kim Elmslie, Oceana Canada’s Campaign Director. “It’s time for leaders in the sectors to step up and address the challenges by putting in measures to end plastic waste. Working collaboratively, we can make a positive impact on the environment, oceans and marine life.”
Major national grocery retailers offer the first opportunity to reduce plastic waste in Canada. In the summer of 2023, the government notified major grocers of a P2 plan to reduce unnecessary plastics throughout their operations. If designed and implemented efficiently, these plans could achieve several of the recommendations laid out in the report and greatly reduce plastic packaging waste in Canada.
Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada has successfully campaigned to ban single-use plastics, end the shark fin trade, make rebuilding depleted fish populations the law, improve the way fisheries are managed and protect marine habitat. We work with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future. Find out more at www.oceana.ca.
Media contacts: Vaishali Dassani, Oceana Canada, email@example.com, 647-294-3335 and Angela Pinzon, Pilot PMR, firstname.lastname@example.org, 647-295-0517. Media assets are available here.