Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution confirms negative impact of plastic pollution on the environment in Canada

News release

January 30, 2020 – Gatineau, Quebec

Plastic pollution has emerged globally as a key environmental issue with increasing concerns on the impacts it has on the environment, human health, and the economy. Plastic ends up in our landfills; litters our parks and beaches; and pollutes our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Small particles of plastic are also pervasive in our environment, and people and wildlife are exposed through air, water, and food. To protect human health, safeguard the environment, and grow the economy, we must take action to reduce plastic pollution.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, and the Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, published the Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution, which sheds light on the extent of the plastic pollution problem in Canada.

The Assessment confirms that larger plastic items like bags and straws can physically harm animals and negatively affect their habitat. Wildlife worldwide are injured or die when they mistake plastic for food or become entangled. The report also highlights microplastic pollution, noting evidence of negative effects on animals and the environment and uncertainties regarding the potential for effects on humans, which require more research. That is why, the Government of Canada will further invest in research that will help expand our understanding of the impacts of plastic. Scientists are invited to apply for funding.

The Assessment reviews the available scientific information regarding the impact of plastic pollution on the environment and human health. It confirms that plastic pollution is everywhere in the environment, including on shorelines, in surface waters, sediment, soil, groundwater, indoor and outdoor air, drinking water, and food.

This draft science assessment of plastic pollution will help inform the Government of Canada’s actions and policies as it follows through on its commitment to ban harmful single-use plastics. The Government is working to have new regulations in place as early as 2021, where supported by scientific evidence and warranted.

The Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution will be published on January 31, 2020, in Part I of the Canada Gazette for a 60-day public comment period. Public comments will inform the final science assessment.

Quotes

“Science confirms that plastic pollution is everywhere and is negatively impacting our environment. This assessment will inform our decisions as our government follows through on our commitment to ban harmful single-use plastics as soon as 2021 because Canadians expect us to.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick facts

  • The Draft Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution surveys the existing state of science and looks at the presence and effects of macro- and microplastic pollution on the environment and human health.

  • Globally, about 8 million tonnes of plastic pollution enter the oceans each year. This amount is equivalent to dumping one garbage truckload of plastic into the ocean every minute.

  • Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. Only 9 percent is recycled while the rest ends up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, or the environment.

  • In 2018, Canadians removed over 116,000 kilograms of litter from shorelines across Canada through the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. The most commonly littered items on our shorelines are single-use or short-lived products (many containing plastics) such as cigarette butts, bottles and caps, bags, and straws.

  • In Canada, up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year and close to 57 million straws are used daily.

  • 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.

Associated links

Contacts

Sabrina Kim
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-743-7138
sabrina.kim2@canada.ca

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
ec.media.ec@canada.ca

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

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