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Plastic predicament: Federal group urges action on packaging legislation in Canada

Oceana Canada is calling on the government to reduce the amount of harmful single-use plastics
As plastic continues to pollute the ocean, Oceana Canada is calling on the government action (credit Oceana Canada/Elemental).

Amid growing concerns over plastic waste, Oceana Canada is urging the government to take action against the growing plastic pollution crisis.

Oceana Canada says the federal government must “continue efforts to reduce the amount of harmful single-use plastics flooding our oceans and devastating marine life.”

Earlier this month, the organization called for strict recycled content laws that increase the availability of refillable and reusable packaging choices and stop the burning of plastic waste.

Burning plastic is known to release harmful emissions into air, water and soil.

While recycling is often viewed as a critical way to reduce ocean contamination, Oceana Canada says it is not enough.

According to the organization, only eight per cent of the three million tonnes of plastic produced in Canada is recycled due to challenges with the composition of single-use plastics. This leaves over 90 percent of the plastic burned, in landfills or in the environment.

“We cannot recycle and burn our way out of this disaster,” Anthony Merante, plastics campaigner at Oceana Canada, said in a statement.

A recent report by Oceana shows that increasing the market for refillable and reusable products by 50 per cent could result in a reduction of ocean plastic pollution by up to 83 per cent.

The federal government recently banned six categories of the most commonly found single-use plastics polluting oceans including plastic bags, cutlery, stir sticks, six-pack rings, straws and some takeout containers.

However, these categories only make up an estimated five per cent of Canada’s total plastic waste per year.

Despite taking a step in the right direction, Oceana says public support is needed to enact greater change from the government.

“We need Canadians to join us in standing up to the plastic pollution crisis and insist that our government move us away from unnecessary single-use plastics that harm our planet and toward the most viable long-term solutions to achieve zero plastic waste: refillable and reusable packaging choices,” says Merante.

Those looking to help can participate in Plastic Free July by not using single-use plastics this month. Some ways to cut plastic include using reusable coffee cups, plastic-free toothbrushes, and buying products without plastic packaging.

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