Another Federal election is over and the minority Liberal government will have to work with other parties to sustain its ruling power. Typically, a minority government works with bills that would receive support from one or more parties to ensure its passage with a majority of votes (170/338).
One of the bills that is destined to move forward and get passage will be the “Plastic ban” bill announced back in June, 2019. This is a bill that will receive support from the NDP and the Green parties. With its passage, the Liberals will once again capture votes from the young and the environmentally friendly voters.
Using very broad terms, here's what the government trying to preach:
Plastic pollution is a global challenge that requires immediate action. Plastic waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators, litters our parks and beaches, and pollutes our rivers, lakes, and oceans, entangling and killing turtles, fish, and marine mammals.
Less than 10 per cent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled. Without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030. We’ve reached a defining moment, and this is a problem we simply can’t afford to ignore.
The statements above do not identify the magnitude of plastic pollution produced by Canada relative to world-wide numbers. That number is 3 million tonnes a year or 0.79 percent of the world's total of 380 million tonnes per year. Once again, Canada is committing tremendous amount of resources to deal with a small fraction of its contribution to the world's problem. This is similar to the Carbon tax issue where Canada's share of 1.6% of Carbon gas emissions is magnified to suit political gains.
The Government of Canada promised to ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 (such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks) where supported by scientific evidence and warranted, and take other steps to reduce pollution from plastic products and packaging. It will work with provinces and territories to introduce standards and targets for companies that manufacture plastic products or sell items with plastic packaging so they become responsible for their plastic waste.
According to the government, by improving how we manage plastic waste and investing in innovative solutions, we can reduce 1.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution, generate billions of dollars in revenue, and create approximately 42,000 jobs. How these are substantiated and the details on the time frame to achieve these goals are not provided.
There are some statistics on plastic waste that one can be aware of:
Every year, Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste. This represents up to $8 billion per year in lost value and wastes valuable resources and energy. About one-third of the plastics used in Canada are for single-use or short-lived products and packaging. In fact, in Canada, up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year and close to 57 million straws are used daily.
Plastic products take a long time to break down and decompose. Even plastic bags we use in our everyday life take anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years to decompose, and plastic bottles can take 450 years or more. Disposable diapers take approximately 250-500 years to decompose in landfills, Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear enters our oceans can persist in the environment for up to 600 years.
Some municipalities start to look at the plastic waste issues and want to initiate steps to curb their use, ahead of the Federal government's upcoming legislation's. In doing so, they have to do their homework and explore all the possibilities to avoid having to amend or adjust their own by-laws on plastic waste a second time when the Federal laws come into play.
One of such municipality happens to be the City of Markham. Let us take a look at their approach in the coming weeks.
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