Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The grim picture of Canada’s plastic litter problem

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Statistics Canada released the report last March ahead of the start of negotiations on a global plastics agreement this week in Ottawa

In the nine years from 2012 to 2020, more than 1,500 million plastic bottles and 1,400 million plastic bags have entered the Canadian environment, according to new Canadian data. The grim picture comes from new data compiled by Statistics Canada in support of the federal government’s zero plastic waste agenda.

Statistics Canada released the report last March, ahead of the start of negotiations on a global plastics agreement this week in Ottawa. The talks are being overseen by the UN Environment Office, which aims to find an international consensus on how to phase out plastic waste by 2040.

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Canada produced or imported 7.1 million tonnes of plastic in 2020, up 28 percent from 2012, the report shows.

About one-third of this plastic is used in packaging. Construction plastic accounts for one-fifth of total plastic. One-seventh of this plastic goes into making cars and one-tenth into making electronics and electrical components.

Around 500,000 tonnes of plastic was discarded during the same period, most of which was destined for landfills. About one-sixth of plastic is recycled. But the data does not indicate exactly how much of that plastic is actually recycled and how much goes to landfill.

A 2019 federal government study found that less than one-tenth of all plastic in Canada is actually recycled. According to the City of Toronto, as much as 13 percent of the plastic that residents put in their blue bins ends up being thrown away. Because some products cannot be processed in the facilities they have.

The report also said that from 2012 to 2020, about three and a half lakh tons of plastic mixed with the environment. Almost half of it i.e. 1 lakh 55 thousand tons was plastic packaging, of which 31 thousand tons were plastic bottles and 73 thousand tons were plastic films. They are used to make grocery bags and food wrappers.

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