For more than half a century, the plastics industry has blamed individual consumers, like you and me, for plastic pollution.
But it's not our fault.
Plastic production has nearly doubled since the beginning of this century and almost quadrupled since the late 1980s. But our recycling systems have failed to keep up with this constant stream of plastic waste. These systems were never designed to handle the volume or complexity of materials on the market. Is it really a surprise that our oceans are awash in plastic trash?
Rather than investing in reuse systems or alternative plastic-free choices, Big Plastic - large plastic manufacturers like Dow Chemical, Imperial Oil and Nova Chemicals, along with their lobbyists - consistently fight the laws that would hold them accountable. Most recently, they’ve challenged the federal government’s decision to declare plastic Toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and are pushing back on Canada’s proposed single-use plastic ban.
Industry opposition is wildly out of step with public opinion and science.
Ninety per cent of Canadians support a ban on unnecessary single-use plastics and two-thirds want to see Canada’s proposed ban expanded to include other harmful products. And, regardless of the specific policy used, 97 per cent of Canadians think the government has a responsibility to reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean.
Every day we as consumers are forced to participate in the plastic pollution, crisis 22 million kilograms of plastics leaks into the ocean and harms wildlife, the environment and human health.
Ninety per cent of seabird species and 52 per cent of sea turtles have ingested plastics. Microplastics (plastic pieces that are smaller than 5 mm) have been found in the stomach and intestines of every single beluga whale that scientists have tested. And it is showing up inside us too.
This past December, for the first time, scientists found microplastics in human umbilical cords and placentas, showing that human babies are exposed to plastic in utero and that plastic can cross the placental barrier.
Canada needs to stand up to Big Plastic.
Thirty-two countries and multiple jurisdictions around the planet have already banned, or are on the way to banning, single-use plastics. This isn’t cutting-edge public policy; it’s the new norm.
Bottom line: Responsibility for the plastic pollution disaster lies with the plastics industry, not individual consumers. Ultimately, Canada needs a strong national ban on harmful single-use plastics to help address this disaster.
As currently proposed, the federal government’s ban on six single-use plastics covers less than one per cent of the plastic products we use – a drop in the bucket for an ocean drowning in plastic waste.
Oceana Canada is urging the federal government to impose a strong single-use plastic ban that includes other harmful plastic products and materials that are commonly found in the environment, such as hot and cold drink cups, cigarette filters, all forms of polystyrene and oxo-degradable plastics, which are actually designed to fragment and then become harmful and ubiquitous microplastics.
We simply can’t recycle our way out of this crisis. Now is the time to meaningfully reduce plastic production and use.
Help us by calling on the government to stand up to Big Plastic and cut this harmful pollutant off at the source.