Tell the Minister of Environment he has an opportunity to make true change for an ocean drowning in plastic.
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, “Wait, wasn’t a ban on unnecessary single-use plastic announced two years ago? What is the government waiting for?”
Well, the wait is over… kind of.
The good news: the government of Canada released the first draft of the proposed ban on single-use plastics in December 2021.
The bad news: it’s filled with loopholes that need to be closed before these regulations become law.
While this is a step in the right direction, there are opportunities that could make this proposed ban more effective, and much stronger.
The really good news is, it’s not too late to tell the government that Canadians want a stronger plastic ban.
Each day more plastic enters the environment. In the last two years, the International Solid Waste Association reports we have increased plastic usage up to 300 per cent. Banning unnecessary single-use plastics can’t wait. There is no time to waste when it comes to eliminating plastic waste. Oceana is demanding the Minister of Environment strengthen the ban on single-use plastics before it becomes law.
You have the chance to demand stronger action to protect our oceans from harmful plastic pollution before March 4, 2022.
Oceana is calling for a more rigorous ban on unnecessary single-use plastics.
1. Include plastic drink cups in the ban list
While this short list in the proposed ban is a good start, it does not include many of the single-use plastic items commonly found in our environment, such as take-out cups. Coffee cups and lids have been found to be one of the most pervasive single-use plastic items found in our oceans and on our shorelines. A whopping 1.6 billion cups made with plastic are thrown away in Canada every year. Even though reusable cups exist and are becoming commonplace in society, for some reason take-out cups have not made the cut to be included in the proposed ban.
These items, which are so commonly found in our environment, need to be included in the proposed ban if our government is serious about being a leader in ending the global plastic disaster.
2. Close the loopholes that would allow other plastics to replace single-use plastics
Currently included in the proposed ban are six categories of single-use plastic items: checkout bags, cutlery, straws, stir sticks, ring carriers, and foodservice ware (take-out containers for food or drink) made from hard-to-recycle plastics like polystyrene or black plastic. At first glance, this might seem like a great start to reducing single-use plastics, but upon closer inspection, we have some serious concerns about how these items-to-be-banned are technically defined. Many of the proposed items, like bags and cutlery, have very specific definitions that may open loopholes for the plastic industry to just make more durable plastic substitutes that would very likely still be treated as single-use.
For example, the current draft allows for thicker plastic forks and knives to be sold with take-out containers under the assumption that customers will keep the cutlery for re-use. But we’ve been trained for years to treat even durable plastic items like forks, knives, bags, and cups as single-use trash, and, sadly, it is likely these will still find their way into landfills and oceans. It is, simply put, a very bad idea to substitute harmful plastic products, with new plastic products.
3. No time to waste: The time to enact the ban is now
Canadians have been hearing about the federal government’s commitment to eliminate plastic waste since 2019. Since then, 90 per cent of Canadians have said they support a ban on single-use plastics. Some businesses have also taken cues to eliminate items like plastic straws and promote reusable or papers bags, but we won’t see real change until it is the law. The Minister of Environment must enact the ban on unnecessary plastic polluting our environment as soon as possible – not in 2024, as is currently proposed.
Waiting until 2024 means two more years of single-use plastics building up in landfills and choking our oceans. In two years, as many as 31 billion plastic bags, 11.6 billion straws, and 1.6 billion take-out containers could be thrown away.
We can’t wait two more years to end the production and sale of harmful single-use plastics.
4. Stop exporting single-use plastics to other countries
As currently written, the proposed ban includes an exemption that these plastic items no longer sold in Canada, to still be created and sold to other countries. Our oceans are all connected and we know that plastic is now everywhere and in everything. Over time, it breaks down into tiny pieces, which we all eat and breathe in. It is in Arctic ice, every fish tested in the Great Lakes, beluga whales, seabirds and more than half of all sea turtles. Marine life gets entangled in and eats this plastic. Plastics are on the seafloor in the deepest parts of the ocean and have even been found in the ocean breeze. The volume of plastic waste is expected to increase a third by 2030.
By continuing to sell single-use plastics globally, Canada is just putting a delay on them washing back up on our shores.
Exporting our waste will not stop it from entering our environment. If Canada declares an item toxic and harmful to the environment it shouldn’t be exported to another country?
There’s no time to time to waste when it comes to eliminating single-use plastic waste.