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

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 last week 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 can rings strangling birds, and plastic bags joining swaths of garbage in our waterways.

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.

Don’t think we need to reduce? If the three million tonnes of plastic garbage didn’t convince you, how about these numbers: 15 billion plastic bags used every year in our country, and 57 million straws used every day.

For almost every occasion, these two items can easily be replaced by non-plastic alternatives that are going to most likely be used more than once.

The ban is far from perfect. For one thing, only some plastics have made the list, namely checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard to recycle plastics.

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. And then there’s plastic water bottles. Reduce, reduce, reduce.

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 where we ship out refuse? They’re starting to decline to take it. 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.

Andrea Rondeau is the editor of the Cowichan Valley Citizen.

Do you have something to say? Write a letter to the editor to news@ahobserver.com.

Letters must be 300 words maxiumum and may be edited for taste, clarity and length.

EditorialsEnvironment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File Photo
Halloween and history collide in Agassiz this month

The spooky displays at the museum are on now until Halloween

Chilliwack-Kent 2020 provincial election candidates, clockwise from bottom left, Kelli Paddon (NDP), Eli Gagne (Libertarian), Jeff Hammersmark (Green), Jason Lum (Independent), and Laurie Throness, who began the campaign as a BC Liberal but left the party on Oct. 15.
Advance voting nears 5,000 in Chilliwack-Kent

More than 380,000 voters have voted in advance across B.C.

Owen Charpentier, 21, is charged with the Oct. 22, 2019 second-degree murder of Keith Baldwin in Chilliwack. (File)
Pre-trial dates set for Chilliwack man charged with Keith Baldwin’s murder

Owen Dale Charpentier accused in the fourth homicide of 2019 next in court June 2021

The 2020 Rotary Club of Chilliwack Book Sale is moving from Chilliwack Mall to Heritage Park to allow more room for physically-distanced shopping. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Rotary Book Sale moves from Chilliwack Mall to Heritage Park

The hugely-popular book sale is going ahead Oct. 25-31 with pandemic protocols in place

Organizers of the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival have decided to end the event after more than 20 years. / Bob Friesen File Photo
Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival cancelled – for good

Organizers say the event was so popular that too many people were attending to be sustainable

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Surrey teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

Most Read