19 November 2018 (MONTREAL) – Over 27 thousand Canadians participated in the national public consultation on “Moving Canada Toward Zero Plastic Waste” [1], sending a clear message to Environment and Climate Change minister, Catherine McKenna: Canadians expect the federal government to phase-out single-use plastics and legislate strong action to reduce plastics at the source, hold corporations accountable and invest in truly sustainable solutions.

The opportunity to act comes this Friday when the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) meets for its annual forum with the national strategy to tackle plastic pollution high on the agenda. A draft strategy is expected to be released following the meeting.

“Just like healing the ozone layer required the banning of certain destructive chemicals, banning single-use plastics is necessary to tackle plastic pollution at the source, and to curb the waste that is overflowing into our environment and choking ocean life,” said Greenpeace Canada’s Head of Oceans & Plastics campaign Sarah King. “Other countries and cities are banning the most unnecessary and problematic throwaway plastic items, and Canada needs to join this growing movement of leaders if our national strategy to address this massive problem is going to have any meaningful impact.”

The pending strategy release comes a month after the European Parliament voted to ban a range of single-use plastics including cotton buds, straws, cutlery and food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, along with various other measures aimed at curbing plastic waste and pollution. In September, McKenna announced the federal government will ditch unnecessary single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery, packaging, cups and bottles within its own operations by 2030; however, the government has not released any plans for national single-use plastic bans.

“The federal government has already acknowledged that bans are effective tools to cut plastic waste by committing to eliminate single-use plastics from federal operations,” added King. “ It’s now time for Minister McKenna to build on that commitment and implement federal regulations to halt the millions of tonnes of plastic waste produced across Canada each year. With the extent of plastics already in our environment, simply improved recycling and increased recycled content in products will not solve this problem; we need governmental action that mirrors the scale of this problem.”

A growing movement of concerned Canadians across the country are calling upon the Minister of Environment and Climate Change through various petitions to ban single-use plastics nationwide. A panoramic survey commissioned by Greenpeace and other environmental groups found that 65% of Canadians surveyed want the government to act quickly to ban single-use plastics. Across the country, various municipalities have already taken the initiative and banned certain single-use products such as plastic bags and straws. Greenpeace is calling on the federal government to take swift and meaningful action to help stop the plastic problem at the source and support new more sustainable product delivery systems.

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Notes to editor

[1] The Final Report on the Public Consultation Moving Canada toward zero plastic waste states that over 1,900 comments and emails and 12,000 campaign letters were received. However, Greenpeace Canada has calculated that over 27 000 people submitted comments and emails through a link created specifically to encourage participation in the public consultation. This discrepancy is concerning as it appears that the opinions of 27 000 people who took the time to voice their concerns seem to have been disregarded in the final analysis.

[2] Through cleanups and brand audits held by Greenpeace and partner organizations, we found that Nestle, Tim Hortons, PepsiCo., The Coca-Cola Company and McDonald’s contributed about 46% of the branded plastic pollution collected in September. While major corporations such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Unilever, have published statements and plans about the need to tackle plastic pollution, none are actually significantly reducing their production of plastic.

[3] Considering the gravity of this problem, it is clear that recycling alone won’t cut it: Canada only recycles 10 – 12 percent of its plastic and currently the recycling industry is faltering. Even upgraded recycling facilities are insufficient to tackle the plastics crisis we are facing today. Over 90 percent of plastics ever produced have not been recycled. The sheer scale and volume of plastic production, predicted to quadruple by 2050, makes it clear that we will not solve this crisis through recycling efforts and voluntary agreements. Increasing recycled content and improving recycling systems more broadly should be seen only as an interim measure as we work to phase-out single use plastics entirely.

For more information please contact:
Philippa Duchastel de Montrouge, Communications officer, Greenpeace Canada
+1 (514) 929-8227, pduchast@greenpeace.org