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Environmental groups push for federal crackdown on single-use plastics

Last Updated Jun 6, 2019 at 12:32 pm PDT

Recyclable materials compressed into large cubes are stacked at the Dufferin Waste Management facility in Toronto on Thursday, March 12, 2009. A Chinese ban on most foreign recycling material is leaving some Canadian municipalities with stockpiles of papers and plastics, much of which may eventually end up in the dump. The ban is also driving down the revenues cities make off their recyclables because the competition to find a company able to take the materials is stiff.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Groups are pushing he federal government to add plastic waste to the Schedule 1 List of Toxic Substances

Doing so would pave the way for legislation to keep plastic waste from entering the nation's waterways

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A dozen environmental groups are calling on the federal government to crack down on single-use plastic products like straws, coffee cup lids, and cutlery.

The organizations argue the current plastic recycling rate in Canada is only nine per cent, and some 29,000 metric tonnes of plastic litter enter our rivers, lakes, and oceans each year.

“The marine debris that is piling up is absolutely staggering,” says Lily Woodbury with Surfrider Foundation Canada. “It’s the places that people don’t frequent.”

Specifically, the groups are pushing the government to add any plastic generated as a waste to the Schedule 1 List of Toxic Substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999.

That would allow for laws requiring the producers of such plastics to collect and recycle them, to prevent that waste from being exported to other countries, and ultimately, ban single-use plastics that aren’t collected.

“We’re not saying to completely eradicate plastics, it just comes down to a better management of plastics,” Woodbury says.

“We have a whole nation that is dependent on the health of the waters, so to not go forward on this would be an incredibly irresponsible decision.”

Some corporations and municipalities are already moving ahead with their own single-use plastic bans. Vancouver’s plastic straw prohibition is set to take effect in April 2020.