As other countries get tough on plastics, Canada lags
© Sarah James
Photos of seabird carcasses stuffed with disposable cigarette lighters and plastic bottle caps are losing their shock value. Images of sea turtles eating polyethylene bags could become cliché. Everyone now knows our planet is choking on plastic waste.
As one scientific paper puts it, “Plastic waste is now so ubiquitous in the environment that it has been suggested as a geological indicator of the proposed Anthropocene era.”
In response, some countries have gotten serious about plastic waste. The EU voted for a complete ban on many single use plastics last October. The UK is legislating minimum recycled content on plastic packaging, and plans to make producers pay the full cost of recycling their wares. In India, disposable plastic bags are unlawful. In Kenya, getting caught with a disposable plastic bag can earn jail time.
In contrast, Canada’s approach to the plastics crisis has been long on rhetoric, short on legislation, and heavily invested in plastics production. As Gord Johns, MP for Courtenay-Alberni sees it, “We are a huge laggard on this issue. What we need instead of platitudes and forecasts of commitments that are years out … is legislation and regulations implemented now.” Currently, he says, the federal government is making “historic investments” in the plastics industry. “They want to be global leaders in plastic production. They’re saying, ‘Well we care, and we’re going to recycle more plastic – because we’re going to produce more plastic.’” MORE