OTTAWA — The political aide to Canada’s environment minister says the federal government is looking to reduce its use of plastic as it pursues a national strategy to curb Canada’s addiction to the material.
Two days after Canada and four other G7 nations signed a Canadian-driven plastics charter that commits to keeping plastic out of landfills by 2040, MPs and environment groups are asking what Ottawa will actually do to implement the charter at home.
Canada’s strategy is still in development, said B.C. MP Jonathan Wilkinson, the parliamentary secretary to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.
“We are looking at the best ways to lead by example, reducing plastic use within government, increasing how much plastic can be recycled or reused, and avoiding purchasing products that come in non-recyclable packaging.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far stopped short of banning plastics outright, arguing that the problem is much greater than simply getting rid of plastic straws and cups.
On Saturday Trudeau got four other countries — Britain, France, Italy and Germany — to join Canada and sign on to a G7 plastics charter. While not legally binding, its signatories have agreed to work towards 50 per cent recycled content in all plastic packaging by 2030, and that 55 per cent of all plastics will be recycled, reused or burned for energy that same year. By 2040, all plastic should be “recovered.”
That last language is most worrisome to environment groups, who say incinerating plastic is not the answer to the world’s ocean garbage problem.
Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director of the Recycling Council of Ontario, said Monday one of the biggest issues in aiming to keep plastic out of landfills is that there is just too much still being produced.
St. Godard said a federal purchasing policy to stop buying plastic materials would be hugely helpful because it would automatically create a market for companies to provide alternative products.