Greenpeace activists send G7 leaders a hard-to-miss message one day before the G7 Summit in Charlevoix Quebec. © David Kawai / Greenpeace

Greenpeace activists send G7 leaders a hard-to-miss message one day before the G7 Summit in Charlevoix Quebec. © David Kawai / Greenpeace

This past weekend, the G7 announced the creation of a much anticipated Ocean Plastics Charter which was promised by our Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, to be a “zero-plastics-waste charter”. Unfortunately, the document’s text falls flat in providing solutions with clear targets and timelines that will result in concrete action to stop the flow of plastics into our environment.

The non-binding agreement, which was endorsed by five of the G7 countries and the EU, is laden with language that focuses squarely on end-of-life waste management such as recycling efforts that won’t do enough, and beach clean-ups that barely scratch the surface of the ocean plastics crisis. It leaves the option of incineration on the table which has other polluting impacts, and it simply doesn’t recognize the urgency of the plastic pollution crisis and the need to act now to fix the problem at the source.

But despite this disappointment from the G7, Canada can still take strong action domestically to get at the root cause of the plastics epidemic through binding legislation. In fact, the federal government is currently running a national public consultation and wants to hear from you on how they can get Canada on track for what we hope will be a plastic-free future.

Act now and tell the federal government to ban single-use plastics, hold corporations accountable for their waste, and invest in innovative delivery models focused on reuse.

We know now, more than we ever have, about how plastic pollution is littering our communities, impacting wildlife, and literally choking our oceans. Polling shows that this is among the top environmental issue of concern for Canadians. To address this crisis, we need to slam on the breaks and take a sharp turn away from our throwaway culture towards sustainable and reusable packaging and product delivery systems. We also need to hold corporations to account for the problem they created. Knowing that single-use plastics are among the biggest culprits of plastic pollution, the Canadian government can start by banning these problem plastics to cut their use and production before they even have a chance to pollute the planet.

Other jurisdictions across Canada and around the world are taking action on single-use plastics bans, so we know that our federal government can follow their lead. Vancouver, Montreal, and Victoria are already looking to ban certain single-use plastics, as are the UK and the EU. Costa Rica is on track to ban throwaway plastics by 2021, India just announced they’d like to do the same by 2022, Taiwan is aiming for 2030, and several countries in Africa, including Kenya and Morocco, have bans or fees to curb plastic bag use.

We need action that mirrors the scale of the crisis. We simply cannot continue to allow the production of billions of throwaway plastic products that are wreaking havoc on ecosystems and our communities. Let’s take the action that’s needed to cut throwaway plastics out of our lives for good.

Add your voice to the national public consultation on plastics to make sure Canada takes the action needed to address this crisis.