Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag tabled a report on plastic pollution in the House of Commons last week.
The Last Straw: Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution in Canada includes 21 recommendations that would allow the federal government to take a “leadership role in addressing plastic pollution in Canada,” according to a news release.
Although Canada is not a leading global source of plastic waste in the world’s oceans, both Canadian-made and foreign-created plastics impact the Canadian environment.
Marine litter can be found along all of Canada’s coasts and freshwater areas — including the Great Lakes, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. In the last 25 years, 700,000 volunteers have collected more than 1,200 tonnes of waste from Canadian shorelines.
The recommendations in the report “aim to increase the recyclability of plastic goods, avoid plastics being landfilled, and harmonize plastic recycling systems and product standards across Canada. The report stresses the need for increased cooperation among federal, provincial, territorial, and interested governments, as well as industry, to address plastic pollution,” read the press release.
The report goes further from the government’s previous announcement that Canada would ban some single-use plastics as early as 2021.
On top of banning harmful, single-use plastics, the report recommends that Canada should have zero plastic waste by 2030 — 100 per cent per cent of plastic products should be reusable or recyclable by then.
Aldag, who is chair of the standing committee on environment and sustainable development, explained that the federal government is “not saying that plastics are bad, it’s how plastics are being disposed of” when interviewed by the Reporter in mid-June.
“You can’t go after all plastics,” said Aldag. “They’re in our vehicles, furniture, carpet, our clothing.”
What the government can tackle are plastics that “can be deemed unnecessary,” he said, items such as “disposable plates and utensils, Styrofoam packaging, cups and lids and straws, stir sticks — [items] that get used for seconds or minutes and then will persist in the environment, or in landfills, for hundreds if not thousands of years.”
Where alternatives cannot be found to plastic, efforts should be made to increase its recyclability, suggests the report.
“In Canada, only nine per cent of plastic is recycled, most ends up in landfills, and approximately 29,000 tonnes are discharged to the environment annually,” said Aldag.
The report concluded that although Canadian consumers and industries have “good intentions” when it comes to recycling and using plastic alternatives, it is not yet an economically competitive option within the country.
“We need to fix this so that the environmental costs of plastics are taken into account. This would allow businesses and consumers to make better decisions to reduce plastic use, to reuse plastic or ensure it is recycled,” said Aldag.