Single use checkout bags are one of the plastic items on the list that will be banned in Canada starting in 2021. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Federal plastic ban a good start — but just a start

Canadians toss out 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year.

The ban of some single-use plastics announced by the federal government this month is a good start – but that’s what it is, a start.

And with the pushback already beginning on this first step, we will need to be dedicated and robust so as not to lose these gains in the years to come, let alone take the further necessary steps needed to preserve our environment from our mounting piles of plastic waste.

Canadians toss out three million tonnes of plastic waste every year. Only nine per cent of that waste gets recycled. So where does the rest of it go? You guessed it.

If we’re lucky it ends up properly disposed of in landfills in Canada. If we’re not lucky, which much of the time we aren’t, it ends up burying Third World countries overseas where we ship our problems so they’re out of sight.

And then of course there’s the 29,000 tonnes that we know makes its way into our environment, from plastic straws littering roadways to swaths of garbage in our waterways. The Denman shoreline cleanup, held earlier this month, collected nearly seven tonnes of garbage – most of that being plastic discard from the shellfish industry.

We haven’t gotten the message: it’s reduce, reuse, recycle. We’ve only paid attention to the “recycle” bit because that way we didn’t have to make any major changes in our daily lives. But that’s exactly the wrong way to look at it. Up first should be “reduce.” Followed by “reuse,” with “recycle” only for what we cannot get rid of with the first two.

The ban is far from perfect.

Notably missing is a lot of the plastic packaging that wraps just about everything we purchase at a store. This is waste that consumers usually have no choice but to take home, and something that must be addressed in the future.

We need to do this. If we don’t do it now, voluntarily, we’re going to be forced to face our garbage, because those countries currently accepting our garbage are starting to refuse our refuse. Think you see a lot of garbage in our environment now? Imagine if we actually have to come face to face with the true amount we produce. -Black Press

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