Earth Day spurs action against plastic pollution

CANADA, April 22 – British Columbians continue to take positive steps to prevent plastic waste and these efforts could be further strengthened as the province moves to regulate more single-use and plastic products.

People are invited to comment on a proposed regulation and other measures, which aim to bolster British Columbia’s efforts to increase the reuse and recycling of plastics, and to ban specific products that can harm habitat, waterways and species that depend on a healthy environment.

“I can think of no better day than Earth Day to take the next step in the fight against plastic pollution to continue to restore the health of our environment,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and the Climate Change Strategy. “The CleanBC Plastics Action Plan has already removed hundreds of tonnes of plastic waste from BC’s wild spaces and shorelines. This next step can take us much further and prevent unnecessary plastic waste from reaching our landfills.

The proposed changes address the most problematic single-use items in BC and help move BC towards a circular economy approach, where no waste is produced. The proposed regulations would be phased in to allow time for education and businesses to utilize existing inventory.

Budget 2022 invests an additional $10 million in the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund to support more BC-based innovations to reduce plastic use and make better use of recycled plastic.

The province launched the CleanBC Action Plan in 2019. Since then, local governments across the province have taken action to eliminate plastic pollution from their communities and green spaces. Seventeen municipalities have passed bylaws to limit single-use plastics.

“Today the province has taken a necessary step forward on our path to a circular economy. This announcement follows Victoria’s unanimous decision to transition our community to daily use of reusable cups and containers,” said Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria. “Safeguarding our natural environment requires action from all levels of government, and we are committed to continuing to work alongside the province to reduce waste. »

The Preventing Single-use and Plastic Waste Intentions Paper outlines proposed province-wide rules to guide coordinated action and build on the waste reduction efforts of local and federal governments.

CleanBC Plastics Action Plan initiatives include:

  • approve municipal bylaws and amend a bylaw to allow all municipalities to introduce bans on plastic bags and certain single-use plastics, which will help prevent community plastic pollution;
  • pass legislation to authorize provincial bans on single-use items;
  • establishing the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund, which is investing $10 million in additional funding, which builds on the $5 million planned in 2020-21 for innovative technologies to turn used plastics into new products to support the economy circular of plastics.
    • Funded projects have increased BC’s ability to replace or recycle more than 20,000 tonnes of plastic per year.
  • adding containers of milk and milk alternatives to British Columbia’s deposit system to recover the millions of containers from restaurants, schools and offices without a dedicated recycling system;
  • the gradual introduction of recycling of new products, such as electric vehicle batteries, mattresses, compressed gas cartridges and medical sharps (e.g. hypodermic needles), over the next four years as part of the five-year extended producer responsibility plan; and
  • supporting the largest shoreline cleanup in British Columbia’s history through the Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative, with over 900 tonnes of marine debris and plastic removed to date, and at least 60% of them reused and recycled.

Learn more:

To learn more about the proposed single-use and plastic waste prevention regulations and to provide feedback, visit: engage.gov.bc.ca/plastics

Bryce K. Locke