Plastic pollution

Plastic pollution is a growing and serious threat to the health of marine life, their homes, coastal habitats, and other aquatic environments. From the tiniest to largest creatures, and from pole to pole, plastic has infiltrated a baffling number of nooks and crannies and food chains in our oceans. But our oceans can’t stomach any more plastic.

Studies have found that 90% of seabirds have plastic in their guts, 1 in 3 sea turtles have eaten plastic, over half of all whales and dolphin species have ingested plastic, and hundreds of other species are negatively impacted by plastic every day. In Canada, off British Columbia, some of the tiniest creatures in the food chain, zooplankton, are showing signs of plastic ingestion with one in twenty sampled by scientists having plastic in their bodies. Meanwhile, whales have been found washed up in Canada with stomachs containing plastic, and eighty-seven per cent of birds in the Canadian Arctic have ingested plastics of some sort. And that’s just the tip of the plastic iceberg.


The real solution to the plastic pollution crisis is back on land by stopping the way our societies have become accustomed to consume, discard, repeat. The predominant fast-paced, convenience-centric and “cheap and easy” culture drives the booming demand for throw-away plastic products, while current business models favour the production of cheap, light-weight, petroleum-based products, and major plastic producing companies fuel a throw-away lifestyle with no or limited repercussions or extended product responsibility. If they don’t have to take responsibility for the waste they create, corporations don’t have any incentive to produce reusable, sustainable packaging and delivery systems. In addition to all this, inadequate infrastructure and a lack of alternate product delivery systems mean proper disposal and also avoidance of single-use products is challenging at best.

Canada is a major offender of plastic waste production, generating around 3 million tonnes of plastic waste a year, only 10-12 per cent of which is actually recycled. Single-use plastics like straws, coffee cups, beverage bottles, throw-away cutlery and packaging are increasingly found on city streets, in storm drains, in ditches, along river banks and ultimately in our oceans and on our shorelines. While our beaches may not be as polluted as other regions of the world, our consumption and generation of waste is part of the global plastic problem, and about one third of the plastic waste we generate is exported to other countries including China, India and Vietnam, where plastic marine pollution is a more visible problem.

But even with proper disposal, people doing their part to recycle and an increase in recycled content in single-use products, the sheer volume of plastics flooding our market, being used and being disposed of cannot continue. The major single-use plastic producers need to be held accountable for the destructive products they are selling and their role in choking our oceans.

Greenpeace is campaigning globally to shine a light on the proliferation, wastefulness and destructiveness of single-use plastic products and stop the overproduction and flow of plastic into our oceans at the source - the producers. We are calling on major producers of single use plastics to stop producing these throw-away products,  develop alternatives for packaging and delivery, and ensure true circular models that promote reuse.

You can help by signing our plastic pledge, and following a refuse, reduce and reuse lifestyle by:

  • avoiding single-use plastic items

  • asking the stores and businesses you frequent, and producers of products you use, to provide alternative distribution models and stop offering single use products

  • buying long-life, repairable products and refusing short-life throw-away things

  • buying less and enjoying more!

You can also help by urging Coke, a producer of over 110 billion plastic bottles a year, to curb its reliance on single-use plastic and stop choking our oceans.
Sign our petition here.



The latest updates


G7 charter won’t effectively tackle plastic pollution, but Canada can still act

Blog entry by Farrah Khan, Arctic and plastics campaigner | June 14, 2018 1 comment

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...

Plastic pollution reaches the Antarctic

Blog entry by Sarah King, Head of Oceans & Plastics Campaign | June 7, 2018

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise was in the Antarctic at the beginning of 2018 It’s not what we wanted to find. When Greenpeace set sail to the Antarctic earlier this year, we were going to look for the incredible wildlife -...

Greenpeace’s new ‘open’ project & your plastic-free future toolkit!

Blog entry by Sarah King, Head of Oceans-Plastics campaign | April 19, 2018

Earth Day 2018’s theme is to End Plastic Pollution, and Greenpeace Canada is rising to the challenge with the launch of our brand new project that’s a bit different from the way we usually tackle environmental problems. Because...

Guest Blog: Action on plastics shouldn’t make life suck for disabled people

Blog entry by Jamie Szymkowiak | April 12, 2018

All rights reserved . Credit: Kaizen Nguyễn Greenpeace have been campaigning to raise awareness of the harmful impact plastics have on our oceans for several years: from microbeads to single-use plastics such as...

Share your pics of ridiculous packaging!

Blog entry by Agnes Le Rouzic | April 6, 2018 3 comments

Have you ever looked around - at the supermarket, or coffee shop, or local mall - and noticed how much excessive plastic there is? Once you start looking for it, it’s EVERYWHERE. And it’s a huge problem. This week, we invite you...

We're talking plastic pollution and solutions at the Green Living Show next weekend!

Blog entry by Sarah King, Head of Oceans-Plastics campaign | March 29, 2018

Overwhelmed by images of yet another corner of the world drowning in plastic pollution? Feel like you do your best to avoid throwaway plastic and yet, despite your best efforts, you are challenged to find alternatives? Want to do...

For Valentine’s Day: the Antarctic’s most loving animals

Blog entry by Willie Mackenzie | February 13, 2018 1 comment

The biggest hearts in the world are found in the Antarctic Ocean, so why not show them some love this Valentine’s Day? There’s always room for more love in the world – and today seemed like the perfect opportunity to spread a...

Here's how 2018 got off to a good start

Blog entry by Sarah Wilbore | February 2, 2018

We’re one month into 2018, and already we have good news from around the world and here in Canada to share with you. We discovered a new bird species in Indonesia The Rote myzomela (Myzomela irianawidodoae) belongs to the...

Diving to the Antarctic sea floor is a scientist’s dream come true

Blog entry by Dr Susanne Lockhart | January 29, 2018

Most people would be surprised about how many species of cold-water corals and amazing sponges you’d find on the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean. Even as the scientist who has identified three quarters of the registered seafloor...

Do ocean sanctuaries really work?

Blog entry by Greenpeace Canada | January 25, 2018

Our oceans are massive and unlike most places on land, they don’t really have borders. Animals, water (and sadly now plastic) all move freely across the globe. So it begs the question: does creating a protected area really work?   ...

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