Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced that plastic will now be classified as toxic under its Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).
In order for a substance to fit into this category, it must have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity, or if it may constitute a danger to human life or health. Last year, following a scientific assessment of plastic pollution, significant evidence revealed what we already knew: plastic has a detrimental impact on the environment and biodiversity.
According to a study commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), only 9% of Canada’s plastic is recycled annually, leaving 3.5 tonnes ending up in either landfill, the ocean or being incinerated.
The news is set to push a ban through on non-essential single-use plastics in the country, including:
- Plastic bags
- Straws and stir sticks
- Six-pack rings
- Food containers made from hard-to-recycle plastic
Despite months of lobbying by the plastics industry to prevent the decision, the Canadian government could not ignore the scientific facts that surround plastic consumption and the harmful impact on the environment. For decades, the industry has been trying to solve the issue via recycling but with recycling statistics as low as 9% in Canada, the problem is not getting any better.
Max Liboiron, an expert on plastic waste and professor at Memorial University, claims that plastic recycling was invented by the industry in the 70s to mitigate concerns regarding the environment without any actual intention to drastically reduce plastic consumption by recycling.
Plastic is everywhere. According to a study conducted in 2019, the average person ingests 5 grams of microplastics per week via food, water and air. This equates to the size of a credit card. While countries like Canada are moving in the right direction to help tackle plastic pollution, it is essential that consumers also make the right choice when buying any plastic product across all industries from food to construction.
Learn more about plastics greenwashing below.