It was back in October of 2020 that I last referenced the proposed ban of some single use plastics announced by PM Trudeau at that time.
This proposed ban that the government proposes, by the end of 2021, includes grocery store bags, straws, coffee stir sticks, six-pack can holding rings, plastic cutlery and certain food takeout containers if they are made from hard-to-recycle plastics.
In my October MP Report, I also asked the question “What are your thoughts on this proposed ban of single use plastics?”
Most citizens I heard from were generally or enthusiastically supportive of this proposal.
Since October of last year, in my role as the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, I have also heard feedback on this proposal from a number of different stakeholders.
One of the primary concerns is that the proposed method to ban these single use plastics is to amend Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) and add these plastics to the list of “toxic” items that are currently banned.
As critics point out, the challenge to this method is that the science does not support these plastics being on a list that includes toxic items such as asbestos, mercury, acetamide and lead, among other items.
The reason why this distinction is being made is to point out that the greater risk to plastic pollution is not to human health, but rather the inability to properly dispose of this plastic that often becomes an unacceptable form of pollution to our environment.
There are also other challenges.
Industry stakeholders have raised concerns that alternatives to single use plastics could significantly increase the load on local landfills by as much as 4 times current volumes.
There are also technical challenges, as single use plastics can significantly and economically extend the shelf life of food, as well as providing many important resources in healthcare particularly during a pandemic.
Syringes, PPE and other critically important items depend upon single use plastics.
In summary, the need for science and a thorough review, as well as detailed consultation will be of vital importance as we move forward on this subject.
However, one topic that we must act upon now is the importance to deal with plastic waste.
To that end I would like to commend Conservative MP Scot Davidson from York—Simcoe, who introduced his private member’s Bill C-204 into Parliament.
Bill C-204 proposed that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 is amended to prohibit the export of certain types of plastic waste to foreign countries for final disposal.
As some may recall in 2019, Canadian taxpayers footed the bill for Canadian waste that was transported to the Philippines to be shipped back to Canada for proper disposal.
It cost $1.14 million to ship sixty-nine shipping containers of garbage from the Philippines Port of Subic Bay to Vancouver, where it was properly disposed of.
Not all of this garbage was single use plastics, but this example underscores the need for Canadians to deal with our own garbage, much as Bill C-204 proposes, when it comes to plastic waste.
I am pleased to say that Bill C-204 passed in the House of Commons with 178 votes from the Conservatives, BLOC, NDP, Green and Independents all supporting it.
Only the Liberal Government members were opposed.
My question this week:
Do you support the principles of Bill C-204?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.