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

Japanese Canadian citizens being transferred into waiting trucks outside Hope Station House. Photograph courtesy of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre.
Public hearing will see 123 letters in support of saving Hope’s historic train station

Hearing set for May 10 to help council decide on future of Hope’s Station House

Gordon Cook
SLIDESHOW: Hope springs to life in pictures

A collection of images from the Standard and its readers

Chilliwack volunteer drivers are needed to help get cancer patients back and forth to Abbotsford (shown here), Surrey and Vancouver cancer clinics. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Volunteer drivers needed to expand cancer driver program to Chilliwack

Drivers will need to commit to one full day of driving, or two half days each week

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Winnie Peters, centre, spoke about the loss of two husbands over the years, both of who were murdered. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls event in Hope on May 5, 2021 included prayers for men who have been killed as well. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Red dresses hang in Hope’s Memorial Park in remembrance

Group gathers for National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Vancouver Giants celebrated a Justin Sourdif goal Saturday night in Kamloops. Giants dropped a 3-1 decision to Kamloops, a game that clinched the 2020-21 B.C. Division banner for the Blazers. (Allen Douglas/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants drop 3-1 decision to Kamloops

Third-period rally should have come sooner, said coach of Langley-based team

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country’s crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
IHIT investigating after man killed in Burnaby shooting

Police looking for more information on fatal shooting

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Most Read