PoliticsTwelve environmental organizations call on the Canadian government to add plastics to toxic substances list

Twelve environmental organizations call on the Canadian government to add plastics to toxic substances list

Twelve environmental organizations call on the Canadian government to add plastics to toxic substances list

Plastic pollution could without a doubt be one of the biggest environmental scourges of our time. Governments, not-profits, businesses and individuals alike have been working at national and sub-national levels to curb the consumption of single use plastic. Twelve leading ocean conservancy and environmental groups have taken this fight to the Canadian government, requesting thatCanada’s environment and health minister take immediate regulatory action on plastic waste and pollution. They are asking that under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999, the Government of Canada add any plastic generated as waste, or discharged from the use or disposal of products or packaging, to the Schedule 1 List of Toxic Substances under CEPA.

The 12 ocean conservancy and environmental groups that have banded together to make this formal and joint request to Canada’s environmental and health ministers include:

  1. Surfrider Foundation Canada
  2. The Ocean Legacy Foundation
  3. Environmental Defence Canada
  4. West Coast Environmental Law
  5. Friends of the Earth Canada
  6. Pacific Wild Alliance
  7. BC Marine Trails Association
  8. Coastal Restoration Society
  9. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
  10. Greenwave Environmental Consulting
  11. Sea Legacy
  12. Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards

Following through with their request would allow the federal government to pass laws requiring producers of products containing plastics or using plastic packaging to collect and recycle them; to prevent exports of plastics to developing countries; to require recycled plastics to be used in making products and packaging; to ban single-use plastic items that aren’t collected and end up as litter and marine pollution; and to reduce microplastic waste from clothing and other products that pollute fish Canadians eat.

“We see discarded plastic bottles, bottle caps, cigarette butts, fishing nets, buoys, crab trays, ropes and polystyrene all along the coast and in the coastal waters of British Columbia,” says Chloé Dubois, President, The Ocean Legacy Foundation. “We can see it, scientists say it is having an impact and other jurisdictions are taking action. It is time we start treating plastic pollution as a solid form oil spill that it is. We need to act now.”

According to a study for Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canada’s rivers, lakes and oceans receive an additional 29,000 metric tonnes of plastic litter – the equivalent of 9.7 billion coffee cup lids[1]. Then there’s the issue of plastics that are either landfilled or burned. Canada’s failure to recycle plastics results in over 1.8 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases[2] as more plastic is made to replace what is lost to landfills, incinerators (thus adding even more greenhouse gases), rivers, lakes and oceans, or what is shipped to unwitting developing nations.

The scientific evidence of the impacts of this plastic pollution is clear. A systematic review of data from 139 lab and field studies by researchers at the University of Toronto concluded, “…that there is evidence that plastic pollution of all shapes and sizes can affect organisms across all levels of biological organization. There is no doubt that plastic pollution can have an impact on wildlife, and there is compelling evidence suggesting macroplastics are already impacting marine populations, species, and ecosystems.”

After reports of Canada dumping trash in other countries, Michelle Hall, Vice President, Surfrider Foundation Canada urges the Canadian government to tackle the problem “here and now”. She states, “On December 22, 2018, Motion 151 passed unanimously in the House of Commons. It calls for, among other things, the regulation of single-use plastics, the development of a plan to clean-up derelict fishing gear and marine debris, and regulation to make companies making plastic products and using plastic packaging responsible for collection and recycling. The Canadian government has a powerful mandate from an overwhelming majority of Canadians to stop our plastic problem from being exported and to tackle it here and now.”


[1]2018 Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited for Environment Canada and Climate Change

[2]Ibid. Ref. 1

Comments (1)

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Katrina Forrest June 06, 2019 11:10 pm

Amazing! It's time for Canada to take responsibility for its waste, and to protect its citizens from the harm caused by it!