Environmental groups slam “Big Plastic”

Canadian environmental groups are calling out the top three producers of plastic in Canada: NOVA Chemicals, Dow Chemical and Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil. These three companies are suing the federal government in an effort to stop the federal action plan to reduce plastic pollution.

“Big Plastic likes to pretend that plastic waste is someone else’s fault: consumers, litterers and municipal waste management,” said Karen Wirsig, program manager for Plastics at Environmental Defence.

“But the real issue is that there’s already too much plastic and the industry wants to prevent the government from doing anything about it. That’s why our number one tip to Canadians this Plastic-Free July is to tell Big Plastic to drop its lawsuit.”

Toxic substance

In May, the federal government listed plastic manufactured items as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), paving the way for regulations to ban certain single-use plastic items and to require new plastic products to include recycled content. Environmental groups are urging the government to vigorously defend the CEPA listing against the Big Plastic lawsuit and move ahead swiftly to implement the promised regulations.

“The plastic pollution crisis we’re facing is not the fault of individuals, and it’s outrageous that we’re made to feel like the culprits when it comes to plastic pollution,” said Emily Alfred, waste campaigner at the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

“Companies have been churning out single-use plastics for years with no restrictions and no consequences, and now they’re fighting regulations that would change that.”

Single use

NOVA, Dow and Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil make about three-quarters of the plastic polymers produced in Canada. The polymers are then turned into plastic goods, including packaging that is often used once and thrown away. Every day in Canada, at least 8,000 tonnes of plastic waste is sent for landfilling or incineration or is dumped directly into the natural environment.

“Our only way out of this crisis is phasing out single-use plastics and petrochemical investments, and to embrace and support reusable models,” said Laura Yates, plastics campaigner at Greenpeace Canada.

“Canadians need to support the federal government to move forward with implementing the proposed single-use plastic ban and tell big plastic they’ve had enough lies.”

“It’s going to take collective effort to solve the plastic pollution problem,” said Lisa Gue, National Policy Manager at David Suzuki Foundation.

“We need the federal government to make good on its promise to ban non-essential single-use plastics by 2021, and we need industry to stop squabbling over first steps.”