Climate Action on Plastics Waste

Photos: Donna Bratle Kendall, an Edmonton photographer, is sharing her soft florals this week in our blog, so we can offset the harsh reality of plastics with the beauty of the movement in her nature photos. Thank you Donna, you are such a talent.

One theme that keeps coming up in our past year of learning about how to make a difference on global warming and climate change is that of the need for change at the systems level, to boost and accelerate the positive actions by individual actors, whether individual people, companies, agencies, cities, or nations.

Where Do Ocean Plastics Come From?

Images of once majestic rivers now clogged with plastics waste, and floating islands of ocean plastics waste are shocking to see. The message is clear that this sorry mess is one created by humans alone.

Where some might feel that the scale of the ocean plastics problem seems insurmountable, others, such as Boyan Slat, CEO of The Ocean Cleanup are actually quite optimistic that this is a solvable problem, and one that he and his colleagues are taking action on.

The bad news that research by The Ocean Cleanup is finding is that the size of the problem is much larger than previously thought – “about 1000 of the world’s rivers are the source of 80% of the global ocean plastic pollution according to new research.”  

Even though it was previously thought that 10 rivers accounted for the majority of global ocean plastic pollution, Boyan Slat and The Ocean Cleanup are undaunted by their new research findings.

Hear why not. We find this two-minute BBC video clip with Boyan Slat to be inspiring evidence of the positive difference that one person is making to show the way forward for tackling the systems level climate change problem of ocean plastics. (BBC – https://bbc.in/3f77PAE)

CPP

The “systems level” action message is echoed in the launch materials for the CPP, begun in January 2021. While Canadian, this CPP is not about pensions, rather, the Canada Plastics Pact.

It is focused on stakeholder collaboration to build a circular economy in Canada.

From its press release we learn that –

“An ambitious pre-competitive, multi-stakeholder platform, the CPP will enable companies across the Canadian plastics value chain to collaborate and innovate. It will build on significant work that has already been underway to reduce plastics waste, and will grow over time. Together, Partners will rethink the way they design, use, and reuse plastics, thereby charting a path toward a circular economy for plastic by 2025.” (Continue reading the press release here – EN/FR)

“Here are CPP’s actionable targets by 2025:

  • Define a list of plastic packaging that is to be designated as problematic or unnecessary and take measures to eliminate them 
  • Support efforts towards 100% of plastic packaging being designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable 
  • Undertake ambitious actions to ensure that at least 50% of plastic packaging is effectively recycled or composted 
  • Ensure an average of at least 30% recycled content across all plastic packaging (by weight)”
Photo Credit Donna Bratle Kendall

CPP Founding Members List

We recognize many of the 30 companies listed as founding members of the CPP, and, together with their 25 implementation parnterns, want to give them a profile by listing them here.

We certainly feel better knowing that businesses we regularly shop at, such as, Canadian Tire for example, are members of such an organization, committed to real action on plastics, from eliminating plastic packaging where possible, to a longer-term goal of 100% of plastic packaging ultimately being ‘reusable, recyclable or compostable’.  https://plasticspact.ca/partners-list/

SIGNATORIES:


“The CPP considers Signatory Partners to be business organizations committed to achieving the CPP’s four targets.

  • Bimbo Canada
  • BOSK Bioproducts
  • Canadian Tire Corporation
  • Club Coffee
  • Coca-Cola Canada
  • Colgate-Palmolive Company
  • Danone Canada
  • EFS-plastics Inc.
  • Emterra Group
  • Fraser Plastics
  • GDI Packaging Solutions Inc.
  • General Mills
  • HypoIndustries Ltd.
  • Ice River Sustainable Solutions
  • Keurig Dr.Pepper Canada
  • Kraft Heinz Canada
  • Kruger Products L.P
  • Loblaw Companies Ltd.
  • Maple Leaf Foods
  • Mars Canada
  • Merlin Plastics
  • Mondelēz Canada Inc.
  • Nestlé Canada
  • Pyrowave
  • Ryse Solutions
  • Save-on-Foods
  • SPDU.ca
  • Tempo Plastics
  • Unilever Canada
  • Walmart Canada”

IMPLEMENTATION PARTNERS:

The CPP considers Implementation Partners to be organizations across the plastics packaging value chain supporting the CPP’s vision.

  • Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation
  • Canadian Beverage Association
  • Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association (Recycle Everywhere)
  • Canadian Produce Marketing Association
  • Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance Inc.
  • Circular Innovation Council (formerly Recycling Council of Ontario)
  • Circular Plastics Taskforce
  • City of Edmonton
  • Cleanfarms
  • Council of the Great Lakes Region
  • David Suzuki Foundation
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
  • International Institute for Sustainable Development
  • Metro Vancouver
  • Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba
  • National Zero Waste Council
  • Ocean Wise
  • PAC Packaging Consortium
  • The Recycling Council of Alberta
  • Retail Council of Canada
  • Return-It
  • Smart Prosperity Institute
  • The Natural Step Canada
  • The Recycling Council of Alberta”

Global Plastics Pact Network

“The Canada Plastics Pact is part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network, joining other Plastics Pacts in Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America, in a network of national and regional initiatives working towards a common vision of a circular economy for plastics.”

Based on their own description of the plastics problem, these plastics pact groups are serious and ambitious about taking significant action —

“More clean-ups and better recycling won’t solve our plastic pollution problem. Achieving a world without plastic waste or pollution will take new levels of innovation and collaboration.”

For more on Global Plastics Pact Networkhttps://bit.ly/33uN7VK

Photo Credit Donna Bratle Kendall

A Circular Economy for Plastics

“Approximately 47% of plastic waste in Canada is due to plastic packaging. And although 32% of that plastic packaging is currently recycled, there is still significant progress to be made, which is why the CPP is focussing its immediate efforts on plastic packaging.” 

“Currently in Canada, approximately 9% of all plastic is recycled – the other 90% winds up in landfills, or the environment. If you could put a price tag on that plastic waste, it would be labelled a $7.8 billion “lost opportunity”¹

“Financial modelling done by Deloitte for the Government of Canada shows that by taking ambitious action, a circular economy for plastics in Canada by 2030 would — in addition to drastically reducing waste — save $500 million in costs every year; create tens of thousands of jobs; and be a substantial source of greenhouse gas emissions savings.”

“The Canada Plastics Pact believes Canada is uniquely positioned to build and realize a circular economy for plastics.”

For more on the CPP, its governance, and the Solutions it is targetting – https://bit.ly/2R8fKWn

Microplastics

In reading CBC What On Earth, April 22, 2021, Mark Crawley reports on a new study that has shown “large amounts of microplastic are floating into the atmosphere from roadways, oceans and farm fields. Once there, it can be carried by winds to the most remote places on Earth.”

“Airborne microplastic takes many forms and comes from many sources, but a key contributor is discarded plastic waste, according to the researchers, whose study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Plastic biodegrades very slowly, and fragments into smaller pieces that can be carried by air currents. A significant percentage of these fragments comes from synthetic textile fibres like in clothing and carpets. These microplastics are much smaller than what you could see with the naked eye.

In the Western USA there is reported to be about 1000 tonnes of microplastics, and it is estimated we inhale about a credit card worth of microplastics every single week. Researchers are investigating how this might affect cloud formation and the weather as well as how it could be affecting our lung health.

New Plastics Designers and Engineers

“Our plastics obsession is exacerbating the climate crisis. Annual emissions from plastic production and incineration could exceed 2.75 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2050, according to the Center for International Environmental Law.”

“To combat this, we need to eliminate as much unnecessary plastic as we can, and completely rethink the plastic products that we still need, according to the New Plastics Economy project, a collaboration between more than a 1,000 governments, NGOs, universities and businesses.” (TED Countdown, https://bit.ly/3rW93ni)

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