Oceana Canada Releases Single-Use Plastic Reduction Plan

Plastic pollution floating in the ocean

(Credit: Oceana Canada)

by | Nov 2, 2023

Oceana Canada has released a federal policy roadmap to cut single-use plastic in the country by a third, or about 720,000 tons each year.

The new report, Breaking the Plastic Cycle, recommends establishing bans on unnecessary, hard-to-recycle plastics along with implementation of reuse provisions and recycling targets to meet this goal. Oceana Canada claims that by using existing federal policy tools, single-use plastic waste may be capped in the country by 2026, following a downward trajectory of plastic pollution.

The report also identifies the seven sectors that generate the most single-use plastic, together accounting for about 41% of plastic packaging waste in the country, and provides recommended actions for plastic waste reduction in each sector. For example, grocery stores were found to generate over 382,430 tons of single-use plastic each year, not including plastic beverage bottles sold in-store.

The report recommends legislation that would implement refill systems and require removal of all non-recyclable packaging at supermarkets.

Oceana Canada emphasizes that Canadian residents uphold the organization’s emphasis on addressing plastic pollution, developing the report in response to 90% of surveyed Canadians who support single-use plastic ban.

“Urgent government action is needed,” said Kim Elmslie, campaign director for Oceana Canada. “We can hit peak plastic as soon as 2026 and reduce production and consumption of single-use plastic in every year that follows. It’s time for leaders in the sectors to step up and address the challenges by putting in measures to end plastic waste. Working collaboratively, we can make a positive impact on the environment, oceans and marine life.”

Recommendations Target Beverage Bottles, Foodservice

The report also identifies beverage bottles and food containers as another main driver of plastic waste in Canada.

Beverage bottles represent over 178,000 tons of single-use plastic annually, which may be lowered by phasing in reuse requirements and further developing already well-established deposit return systems. Coca-Cola recently launched its 100% recycled plastic bottles in Canada, helping contribute to a circular economy for plastic bottle packaging in the country.

Foodservice represents another sector that relies heavily on single-use plastic. The report suggests a distribution ban on single-use plastic for dine-in services and implementation of reusable take-out containers. Some restaurants in Toronto and Vancouver have already begun to offer reusable takeout container services.

Additional major drivers of plastic waste named in the report include PVC and PS plastics, or those that may not be recycled, along with pallet wrap and E-commerce packaging.

Canada has started to take action against plastic waste, including its recently-released Single-Use Plastic Prohibition Regulations, and the government also maintains a target of zero plastic waste by 2030. Oceana Canada’s recent report may help guide legislation in continuing these efforts.

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