The federal government is investing $2.3 million to learn more about the impacts of plastic pollution on the natural environment and human health. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The federal government is investing $2.3 million to learn more about the impacts of plastic pollution on the natural environment and human health. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Fed offers $2.3 million for plastics-based scientific research

Announcement made during Vancouver’s virtual Zero Waste Conference

The federal government has stepped up its war on plastic pollution, committing $2.3-million to learn more about its impacts on the natural environment and human health.

The funding will be channeled to 16 science-based research projects to fill knowledge gaps in its recently released study supporting a ban on most single-use plastics next year.

Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of environment and climate change, made the announcement during a panel discussion at the virtual Zero Waste Conference in Vancouver Nov. 13.

“Plastic pollution is everywhere,” he said. “As home to the world’s longest coastline and one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, Canada is a huge player and has a huge stake in addressing this challenge.”

READ MORE: Regional district to participate in an Agricultural Plastic Recycle pilot program

Schiefke noted Canadians throw out three-million tonnes of plastic waste every year, the equivalent of 570 garbage bags every minute. Only nine percent is recycled, while the rest ends up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, or the environment, according to government research.

Plastics are among the most universally used and discarded materials in the world, which, in micro states, has been detected in sediment, groundwater, soil, indoor and outdoor air, food and drinking water.

“What’s positive about where we are today is how aligned governments, business leaders and scientists are about tackling plastic pollution,” Schiefke said. “It’s because Canadians have made it clear they want action, and they want action now.”

Provincially, Premier John Horgan committed to developing an action plan to keep plastic pollution out of B.C. landfills and waterways during his Feb. 11 throne speech.

Globally, conference panelist, Chelsea Rochman, assistant professor in ecology at the University of Toronto, and scientific advisor to Ocean Conservancy, said roughly 19 to 23 metric tonnes of plastic goes into the environment every year, which will double in the next decade with the world’s current reduction commitments.

READ MORE: Plastics industry says its products are not ‘toxic’, urges govt to rethink label

“Unless the growth in plastic production and use is halted, a fundamental transformation of the plastic economy is essential, where plastic products are valued, rather than becoming waste.”

She noted the actions needed for a circular-economy solution are mirrored by the federal government’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030, announced last week.

This includes a proposed ban on harmful single-use plastic items that have readily available alternatives, including plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.

Walmart Canada’s president and CEO, Horacio Barbeito, who also sat on the panel, agreed with Schiefke that many private-sector businesses are committed to reducing plastics use, particularly in packaging, but said many will likely need help with incentives and innovation.

“We need to inspire entrepreneurs,” he said.

“This is, for us, just as important as creating shareholder value … you can count on us to be a part of that journey.”



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Just Posted

Mike Farnworth, pre-pandemic. (File photo)
Surrey Police recruitment not distracting cops from shootings, Farnworth says

‘That’s simply not the case,’ Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told the Now-Leader on Friday

Little House Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Society COO Debbi McKenzie stands in front of the society’s namesake facility with Phoenix Drug Alcohol Recovery and Education Society CEO Keir Macdonald. (Submitted photo)
Delta’s Little House Society merging with Surrey-based Phoenix Society

Merger ‘came together in a really organic way’ as societies have been working together for two years

White Rock RCMP, January 2021. (Tracy Holmes photo)
White Rock RCMP investigate ‘person-involved’ collision

Incident happened around 4 p.m May 13 on Victoria Avenue

Surrey teacher Derek Duke gets vaccinated for COVID-19 at the North Surrey clinic on Wednesday, March 24. (submitted photo: Fraser Health)
COVID-19 cases among staff drop 60% after vaccinations: Surrey school district

School-based staff first eligible for vaccine March 24

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

RCMP officers stand near a body covered with a tarp in the parking lot of a shopping complex after one person was killed and two others were injured during a shooting in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Man, 23, killed in latest Lower Mainland shooting had gang ties: IHIT

Jaskeert Kalkat was one of the three people hit by gunfire at Market Crossing mall at around 8:30 p.m.

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Police are asking the public for help identifying a suspect who allegedly hurled anti-Asian slurs at a family in a Richmond drive-through on May 1. (Benjamin Wong/Screen grab)
Suspect at large in racist tirade at Richmond drive-thru, says RCMP

The Caucasian man was recorded May 1 yelling anti-Asian slurs at a Richmond family in the lineup

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth debates the province’s latest measure to control crime, March 10, 2021. The legislation allows police to impound vehicles used to transport weapons and further restricts sale of vehicle and body armour. (B.C. legislature video)
B.C. seeking ways to ‘name and shame’ gangsters, minister says

Mike Farnworth appeals to family members to talk to police

Most Read