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Act now – before midnight Saturday: support Tories’ single-use plastic idea

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Apr 19th, 2019
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Last month, the Ford government issued a discussion paper on reducing waste and litter. It was an attempt to launch an important debate that unfortunately got lost in the tsunami of legislative and regulatory change that has crashed over this province.

Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities Discussion Paper_0-2

The paper contained one very important idea that would make a huge difference to the environmental impact of our waste – by way of a passing comment on page 20 on the fact that other jurisdictions have implemented a ban on single-use plastics (in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador has just introduced legislation, and Prince Edward County’s ban goes into effect July 1). And there’s a question, on page 21:

Would a ban on single-use plastics be effective in reducing plastic waste?

The answer is yes! Get your comment in by midnight tomorrow!

This is the best way we have of letting the government know that we support strong measures to tackle the plastic plague – starting with a ban on single-use plastics that are never recycled, like bags, bottles, straws, cutlery, polystyrene containers and black plastic.

Unfortunately, the discussion paper does not flesh out how such an important decision is best implemented. The lack of detail indicates this is not an idea the government is contemplating in an urgent and serious manner.

The matter does call for careful consideration. Light-weight plastic bags have been banned in 62 countries. Results have been mixed. But the crisis is upon us. Urgent and serious action is required. The estimates are mind-boggling – more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste entering the Great Lakes every year, 1 billion bottles a year ending up in Canada’s lakes, waterways and landfills….

Here’s what Agnès Le Rouzic, Greenpeace Canada’s Oceans & Plastics Campaigner, wrote this week in HuffPost:

“To truly tackle the plastics epidemic, governments must pass legislation to set guidelines and reduction targets to ban single-use plastics. The sheer scale and volume of plastic production, predicted to increase globally by 40 per cent in the next decade and quadruple by 2050, makes it clear that we will not solve this crisis through recycling efforts. It is clear: single-use plastics must be banned.

“The clean-ups, improved recycling, bottle deposits and public education proposals contained in Ontario’s discussion paper are good, but all Band-Aid solutions if plastic production is not immediately reduced.

“According to the government’s statistics, the current Blue Box Program Plan in Ontario recovered only 28 per cent of all plastic packaging generated in 2017, with the rest ending up in landfills or as litter.

“When one company like Coke admits it produces 3 million tonnes of plastic packaging a year — equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute — how could we ever keep up with capturing all of it? Companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestlé must do their part to drastically reduce their plastic production at the source. To clean up the litter, we must stop the litter from being produced in the first place.”

Environmental Defence favours deposit return programs for multi-use plastics where reuse or recycling are good options, as with plastic containers. The advantage of such an approach is that it could be implemented quickly and experience elsewhere indicates it is quick to achieve results.

There are some single-use plastics that we will choose to continue with, until safe alternative that are less wasteful can be worked out – for instance in hospitals and health care.

There’s a multitude of options to be worked out.

But overwhelmingly, the plastic we use every day is not necessary. It’s there in the interests of commerce – to make products last longer, display more attractively, travel further…  We can remodel our lives by questioning those objectives or choosing alternative ways to achieve them. We shouldn’t use plastic just because it’s there. All around us. And in us. Plastic is in the food chain and has shown up in human excrement.  It won’t be long before it penetrates further.

Let Environment Minister Rod Phillips know: This has to stop. We’re ready to take action.

-Add your comment on the Enviromental Registry of Ontario post #013-4689 

-Sign the Environmental Defence petition

-Tell your MPP this matters to you.

Note: The discussion paper touches on many other serious issues, including producer responsibility and landfill approvals. So you may wish to add your thoughts on these other topics to your ERO comment.

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