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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Comox woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Most categories of crime held steady from year to year in Cumberland. File photo
Cumberland crime numbers hold steady year to year

A few categories had notable changes but many were similar to 2019

The colourful Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly has been reintroduced on Hornby Island, BC. Photo courtesy the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project.
Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Project releases more caterpillars on Hornby Island

Chris Junck Special to Black Press The number of Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies… Continue reading

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
The Baynes Sound Connector leaves Denman Island en route to Buckley Bay. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Baynes Sound Connector undergoing upgrades

The MV Quinitsa is providing service between Buckley Bay and Denman Island

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Most Read