From May to September, NoSUP Canada petitioned the Government of Canada to improve the single-use plastic ban by strengthening regulations and accelerating the timeline toward zero-plastic waste goals supported by almost 1,500 signatures. Unfortunately, the first phase of the single-use plastic ban only includes checkout bags, stir sticks, can rings, takeout items, cutlery and straws, representing only 3% of the total plastic waste created in Canada. We want to share what else should be included.
Below are seven items not in the single-use plastic ban but should be!
- Cigarette butts
- Plastic bottles
- Plastic bottle caps
- Plastic food wrappers
- Plastic lids
- Plastic produce bags
- Bread bags and tags
Many people may not know that cigarette butts are primarily made of plastic; at present, 4.5 trillion individual butts pollute the environment. It can take up to ten years for cigarette butts to degrade, and until then, the chemicals released can end up in our natural systems and harm our environment. Organizations like A Greener Future are bringing greater awareness to cigarette litter in two ways. First, they are gathering volunteers to collect cigarette butts in the spring to send to TerraCycle Canada to be recycled appropriately and carry out long-term recycling opportunities for proper cigarette butt disposal.
5.3 million bottles of water are purchased by Canadians every day, and most of them end up in landfills and our natural systems. Other plastic beverage bottles also face the same fate. And despite most people in Canada having access to safe tap water, 20% of Canadians continue to drink from water bottles. In Canada, almost every province and territory has a version of a deposit system encouraging better recycling, but it needs to be standardized at a national level. In Singapore, they piloted a deposit program where consumers pay an additional 10–20 cents for pre-packaged plastic beverages. They can get their deposit back by returning the bottles to reverse vending machines.
Plastic bottle caps
Bottle caps are one of the top five items found in organized cleanups. Not only are they so commonly found, but they are also deadly for sea life due to their small size and vibrant colours. Reep Green Solutions partnered with Plastic Flux and Precious Plastic Canada this year for their Zero Waste Challenge to upcycle plastic bottle caps into benches that can be situated around the community. This is a perfect example of reusing materials and participating in the circular economy.
Plastic food wrappers
The narrative for the longest time has been that plastic-wrapped food helps extend the shelf life of products, but that’s not entirely true. We know plastic wrappers are challenging to recycle and release toxic chemicals into the environment. Unfortunately, plastic food packaging is systemic within the food industry, and NoSUP Canada plans to change that with your help. As citizens of the planet, we can substitute plastic wrappers with beeswax wraps. A small lifestyle change, like switching to reusable and sustainable wraps, can help divert waste from landfills.
Plastic beverage lids
One and a half billion kilograms of plastic is produced annually through the three billion plastic lids used for beverages. On top of so much plastic waste being produced and ending up in landfills and our ecosystems, these lids leak, contributing to unwanted spills and burns. In addition, these lids are neither sustainable nor functional, yet they continue to be used while contributing to the plastic waste problem. Fortunately, innovative replacement products are being made, like “Lipid,” a bio-based lid made of spruce and pine that is both eco-friendly and reliable compared to the current standard product.
Plastic produce bags, bread tags and tags
Plastic produce and bread bags are common single-use plastic in our grocery stores. However, they typically last only one use. Additionally, plastic bread tags are small and difficult to recycle, and several hundred metric tons of bread tags are produced to keep bread bags closed. In 2022, the largest bread producer in Canada, Bimbo, introduced and implemented cardboard clips made of 100% recycled and biodegradable material to replace bread tags. This change in operations will reduce their single-use plastic by 200 metric tonnes annually.