Environmentalists says people, businesses and government must do more to recycle plastics and to use less of them. (iStock)

Canada only recycles 11 per cent of plastic waste

Environmentalists are urging Canadians to avoid single-use plastic, to recycle more and they want the government to take strong action to reduce plastic waste.

A survey found that in 2017, 71 per cent of Canadians order takeout food more than a few times a month and almost half buy cups of coffee daily. This generates huge amounts of plastic waste.

Canadians take out a lot of food and coffee generating tons of plastic waste. (iStock)

‘In landfills…for hundreds of years’

“We know that single-use plastics overall make up around 40 per cent of Canada’s plastic waste. And a lot of that is…delivery food containers, plastic bottles, coffee cups and that sort of thing,” says Ashley Wallis, plastics program manager at the advocacy group, Environmental Defence. “So that’s a lot of plastic that’s being used for maybe only a few seconds but will sit in landfills or the environment for potentially hundreds of years.”

Consumers can help

Many of the plastics and styrofoam in particular are not recyclable. Wallis says when Canadians order out, they can refuse items like plastic cutler and small packaged condiments. Sometimes, when ordering out or buying food in bulk, they might bring their own containers and some stores encourage this by offering small discounts.

Calls for a national strategy

Wallis says restaurants and other businesses can help by using plastic products that contain no toxic substances and can be recycled. She notes that Canada has a patchwork of recycling protocols, with each municipality having its own rules. It’s estimated that only 11 per cent of plastics are recycled. Wallis says the Federal government should develop a national strategy to limit the use of plastics and increase recycling.

(photo Environmental Defence)

Ashley Wallis says Canada must use less plastic and recycle more.

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