Government of Canada partners on new tool to help students learn about plastic pollution

News release

September 17, 2018 – Ottawa, ON

Plastics pollution is a major global challenge for the health of our oceans, lakes and rivers. That’s why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the international Ocean Plastics Charter in June and has made oceans health and plastic pollution a priority for its 2018 G7 Presidency.

Young people are an important stakeholder in shaping a world free of plastic pollution. That’s why today the Government of Canada joined Ocean School, Ocean Wise, Sea Smart, Students on Ice, and WE to launch a new Ocean Plastics Education Kit for Canadian students. The Ocean Plastics Education Kit will engage students and teachers from coast to coast to coast in order to increase awareness of the problems that marine plastic litter causes for our oceans and the environment, and empower them to develop solutions and take action.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, launched the tool this morning through an interactive classroom discussion hosted by WE. Minister McKenna talked about the problem of plastics pollution, the importance of this new education tool, and listened to student ideas and concerns about managing plastic waste. Minister McKenna was also joined in person during the live video feed by Craig Kielburger, co-founder of WE, an international charity that empowers youth and a partner in the education kit. Separate launch events for the Ocean Plastics Education Kit also occurred across the country in Halifax, Gatineau, Iqaluit, and Vancouver.

Later this week, Minister McKenna will co-host a G7 meeting in Halifax for environment, oceans and energy ministers on the theme of climate, oceans, and clean energy. Minister McKenna plans to further advance the Canada-led Ocean Plastics Charter and to make concrete progress on reducing plastic pollution with her international counterparts.

Moving forward, the Government of Canada will continue to collaborate with partners and youth to work together towards a zero plastic waste future.


“Youth are an inspiring force when it comes to protecting our environment. Teaching youth about the problems facing our environment and helping them work towards solutions is a benefit for us all.”

– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Ocean School is delighted to collaborate with ECCC and other partners empowering young Canadians to take action on marine plastics. The Ocean Plastics Education Kit is an excellent way to leverage Canadian ocean education resources and expertise to bring focused attention onto marine plastics. We are pleased to be a part of it, and look forward to continuing our work fostering a culture of marine sustainability and stewardship in Canada and around the globe.”

– Boris Worm, Scientific director, Ocean School

“The issue of plastic in our oceans is increasingly pressing. The good news is that through partnerships like this one with Environment and Climate Change Canada, and by engaging our youth across the country, we have a real opportunity to reduce the impact of marine litter on our waterways. The resources Ocean Wise and its peers have created will serve to launch an invaluable dialogue with the environmental stewards of tomorrow. Our hope with these efforts is to ensure a world for these students in which our oceans are healthy and flourishing.”

- James Bartram, Vice-President of Education and Youth, Ocean Wise

“Sea Smart inspires and empowers youth to love and protect our oceans. Sea Smart uses innovative, solutions-based approaches to teach youth about ocean issues and how we can help in school workshops, after-school programs, and summer camps. We are excited to collaborate with ECCC and our ocean education partners to empower youth across Canada to take action against ocean plastic pollution.”

– Dr. Elaine Leung, Founder & Executive Director, Sea Smart

"As a global pioneer in leading educational expeditions on the ocean to the Polar Regions, Students on Ice is committed to continuing our 20 year efforts to connect today's youth to the Arctic, Antarctic, and global ecosystems, and in doing so, to develop in them the confidence and capacity to become active citizens in addressing complex issues such as ocean conservation and climate change. SOI is proud to be collaborating with ECCC and other national partners on the Ocean Plastics Education Kit" 

– Geoff Green, Founder and President, Students on Ice Foundation

“WE is thrilled to partner with Environment and Climate Change Canada to highlight the issue of ocean health and single-use plastics in accordance with the Ocean Plastics Charter. By removing the typical barriers to learning through our interactive sessions and resources, we’re excited to provide Canadian youth across the country access to the issues education and skill building they have asked for. We’re so excited to host a Youth Talks event at our WE Global Learning Centre to connect like-minded youth across the country on an issue they’re passionate about.”
– Craig Kielburger, Co-founder of the WE Movement

Quick facts

  • There is more than 150 million tonnes of plastic waste in the oceans, and less than 10 per cent of all plastics are recycled and kept in the economy.

  • Canada championed international efforts to reduce plastic pollution by spearheading the development of the Ocean Plastics Charter adopted by Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom at the G7 leaders’ summit.

  • The Government of Canada is currently holding a consultation to gather Canadians thoughts on how to achieve a zero-plastic waste future.

Associated links


Caroline Thériault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page
Environment and Natural Resources in Canada’s Facebook page

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