Single-Use Plastics – Thing Of The Past!
It was common practice when you ate out at a restaurant and ordered a glass of water or soda, the server would provide you with a single-use plastic drinking straw. In the United States, it is estimated 500M plastic drinking straws are utilized each day.[i] Those days are coming to an end. In most instances, the beverage is now being served without the plastic straw and the onus is placed on the patron to request one. This is just one small example society is undertaking to eliminate single-use plastics.
Welcome to “Single-Use Plastics – Thing of the Past”!
Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are items that are only used once before they are thrown away or recycled. They include: plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda, and water bottles and most food packaging. The U.N. Environment reports just 9% of the world’s nine (9) billion tonnes of plastic has been recycled.[ii] Most of our plastic ends up in landfills, our oceans and waterways, and the environment. In fact, it can take up to 400 years for plastic to degrade.[iii] Feel this is an isolated issue? Across Canada, it is estimated less than 11% of Canada’s plastics get recycled.[iv]
Single-use plastics are considered the worst offenders in the Marine Environment. Based upon data collected on a clean-up event across New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, between the period of December 2010 to October 2013, of the 1.1.2M items, picked up from the beaches, 72.4% of the items removed were articles of this nature.[v] The top 3 offenders:
- Plastic of unknown origin – 18.4%.
- Plastic cutlery – 15.7%.
- Food wrappers and containers – 14.3%.
Across Canada, there is a push by both the Canadian Environmental Defence Association (CEDA) and Green Peace to have the Federal Government ban single-use plastics. CEDA feels it is time to get Canada to zero plastic waste by 2025 and is calling upon the Canadian Government as part of its strategy to establish a national 75% recycled content standard for single-use plastics. A panoramic survey commissioned by Greenpeace and other environmental groups found that 65% of Canadians want the government to act quickly to ban single-use plastics.[vi] The City of Montreal says it is working on a bylaw to ban single-use plastics by the spring of 2020.
As consumers demand corporations establish sustainability commitments to preserve the environment, some companies have undertaken ambitious recycling goals. For instance, Nestle Waters, North America in 2018 set targets to utilize 25% recycled content in its plastic packaging by 2021 and 50% by 2025. In addition, they were recently recognized with a Design for Recycling Award at ISRI 2019 for a version of its Pure Life water bottle made with 100% recycled content. [vii]
We all have a role to play in eliminating single-use plastics. Our bodies of water are one of our largest sources of natural resources, yet they are being filled with this waste and in the process endangering the lives of our wildlife. For instance, there was a recent story on CTV News in which a rare deep-water dolphin stranded on a Florida beach and later euthanized had a stomach full of trash. Biologists said they found two plastic bags and a shredded balloon during a necropsy of the young rough-toothed dolphin. For those looking to cut back, Table 1 provides strong alternatives to a random sampling of problem products.
Alternative Uses to Single Use Plastic Products[viii]
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