November 23, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario
Plastic pollution is a major global challenge for the health of our oceans, lakes, and rivers. That’s why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the international Ocean Plastics Charter, in June, and has made ocean health and plastic pollution a priority for Canada’s 2018 G7 presidency. If we don’t act now, plastics in our oceans could weigh more than fish by 2050. With thousands of communities, jobs, ecosystems, and wildlife that depend on our oceans, lakes, and rivers, the Government of Canada is taking significant action at home and abroad to beat plastic pollution.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, was joined by her provincial and territorial counterparts via teleconference for the annual meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.
Building on the strong momentum from Canada’s G7 presidency, federal, provincial, and territorial environment ministers agreed to push forward on a Canada-wide zero-plastic-waste strategy. The strategy outlines a vision to keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment through solutions to better prevent, reduce, reuse, and clean up plastic waste.
With its circular-economy approach, the strategy addresses plastics throughout their life cycle. This means
- ensuring all plastic products and packaging are designed for greater durability, reuse, and recycling throughout the value chain;
- working with companies that make products containing plastics or using plastic packaging to shift responsibility to them for the improvement of plastic-waste collection, management systems, and infrastructure across Canada;
- expanding collection systems to keep all plastic products in the economy and out of the environment;
- significantly increasing the responsible use and recycling of single-use products;
- improving our understanding of the issue and solutions through research and innovation; and
- taking action to capture and remove the plastic litter found on shorelines and in nearshore waters.
Ministers agreed to continue to work over the coming year with all levels of government, Indigenous communities, industry, and other stakeholders to develop an action plan to implement the strategy for zero plastic waste.
In 2014, every Canadian threw away on average 706 kg of waste. The Canada-wide aspirational waste-reduction goal adopted today by ministers will reduce this number by 30 per cent per person by 2030, with a 50 per cent reduction goal by 2040. This goal will not only help protect the environment, our air, and our waterways, but it could also generate more than 85,000 good middle-class jobs and $4.2 billion in GDP by 2040. It could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15 million tonnes.
During the meeting, ministers also approved in principle a renewed memorandum of understanding for mutual aid for environmental emergencies. The Council continues to support collaborative work on shared environmental priorities, including air and water quality, climate change, and cumulative effects.
Canada will continue to take on leadership internationally and domestically with provincial and territorial partners to ensure our country can benefit from clean air, clean water, and clean nature and ensure a healthy and prosperous future for our kids and grandkids.
Minister McKenna has served as president of the Council since November 2017. The Government of Canada wishes Nova Scotia well as incoming president of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment for 2019.