VICTORIA – Every minute of every day the equivalent of one large garbage truck of plastic enters our oceans – nine million tonnes a year – littering shorelines, floating, drifting or sinking to the ocean floor, leaching toxic chemicals and killing marine life by entanglement or ingestion.
The Green Party says it’s time to back off, clean up and give the oceans a chance to recover. The party’s 2019 election platform commits a Green government to working with provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments to develop and legislate a comprehensive national strategy on plastic pollution to be implemented over 10 years.
“The first step is a complete ban on the production, distribution and sale of all non-essential petroleum-based single-use plastics by January 2022,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “It’s a big step on a short timeline but Canadians are demanding that their governments get this done. Greens are listening.”
The ban will include: carry-out and produce bags, balloons, straws, plates, cups, lids, cutlery, cotton buds, drink stirrers, cigarette filters, and most plastic water bottles; packaging, including multilayer packaging, packing straps, all multipack rings, takeaway packaging, and all styrofoam packaging; and all single-use plastics that are not easily recyclable or have additives that make them non-recyclable, including thermoset plastics.
Ms. May said that global production of plastics has soared from two million tonnes a year in 1950 to more than 300 million tonnes today. It is estimated that 80 per cent of all the plastic that has ever been produced – 8.3 billion tonnes – is still around, in landfills or in the environment.
A Green government will also:
By January 2021 implement an Extended Producer Responsibility program for all companies making or selling synthetic fishing gear to fund the retrieval of lost or abandoned fishing gear (“ghost nets”) and the collection and recycling of old, damaged, and recovered fishing gear.
Set up a plastics lifecycle advisory group, comprising representatives from all sectors in the lifecycle of plastic products, scientists, and federal and provincial government representatives, to provide guidance and recommendations in establishing plastics biodegradability, recyclability and sustainability standards.
Limit the production and use of persistent contaminants in plastic, based on evolving research into the human health impacts of micro-fibres and other microplastics.
Set 2022 reusable and refillable packaging targets for supermarkets and other food stores in consultation with food distributors and sellers.
Extend the ban on microbeads to include household and industrial cleaning products.
By 2021, require all new washing machines sold in Canada to have a removable, cleanable filter to capture micro-fibres that otherwise pass through water treatment plant filters and into water bodies.
Require an increasing percentage of recycled plastic feedstock in durable plastic products.
Require all products to be fully recyclable using readily available processes.
Take action to ensure that products described as compostable have viable waste streams to do so.
Phase out Canada’s export of solid waste to other countries. If we produce it, we should manage it.
By 2021, fund proper solid waste management systems in Indigenous and Arctic communities