OTTAWA – Canada's environment ministers want to cut half of the amount of garbage produced by this country in just two decades.
By 2030, they want to reduce the total amount of waste that Canada drops 30%; by 2040, they want to reduce the quantity by 50%. And, as part of a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in particular, Ottawa and the provinces unanimously agreed to work on a plan not to produce Canada at all waste plastic.
Much of the Canadians who send waste and incinerators after recycling and compost and all other forms of diversion are plastic.
"Plastic pollution, as we all know, is a major challenge to the health of our oceans, our lakes and our rivers," said Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, speaking to reporters after a two-hour teleconference with counterparts provincial.
The meeting was supposed to be held in front of Ottawa, but was demoted to a video conference first and later to a conference call. Federal officials quoted programming conflicts that prevented some ministers from being there in person; behind the scenes, the tension between Ottawa and some provinces over the carbon price is considered to be a factor.
McKenna said the meeting took place in the field of plastics, not climate change, and said he was glad that ministers could put other differences apart to find an agreement on another thing.
"I was very pleased to see today that the provinces, despite the situation where there may be other areas where we do not necessarily agree, that we all agree that plastic is an enormous problem," she said.
Canada is trying to be a leader in reducing the plastic addiction of mankind. At the last summit of G7 leaders, he convinced five of the seven developed economies in the world to sign a plastic card, promised that by 2040 all plastic materials produced in these countries would be reused, recycled or burned to produce energy. (The United States and Japan are left out.)
The proliferation of disposable plastic packaging, such as water bottles, drinking straw and food packaging, sends massive amounts of plastic to landfills. More hits in the waterways and floating to the sea. The huge plastic reefs appear in the oceans, and fish and marine mammals eat plastic objects, thinking they are food.
Earlier this week, a sperm whale died in Indonesia and was found to have six kilograms of plastic waste in the stomach, including 115 plastic cups, a plastic bag for loose stumps and two flip flops. Whatever killed the whale is unknown because it was badly broken down.
The lack of adequate waste management in developing countries is behind many plastics that end up in the oceans, but Canadians are not big in recycling despite recycling systems in most cities. Only about 10% of Canadian plastic buyers are recycled.
In 2014, the average Canadian threw 706 kilos of garbage.
A final national strategy on plastics is still in place, but ministers have agreed to require plastic products sold here to be more easily re-used or recycled and to introduce producer liability systems to make companies selling plastic packaging be more responsible to ensure they get recycled.
McKenna said that Canada is a bit over average when it comes to recycling, but it's far from good enough.
"The reality is that we have a job," she said.
Environmental groups believe that this agreement is not the required ton of work.
"How many bottles full of disposable litter have to wash on the shores around the world before our Minister for Environment and Climate Change can take strong action to help reduce excess plastic throwing?" Sarah said King, the head of a campaign of oceans and plastics for Greenpeace Canada.
The King wants Canada to follow European footsteps and completely ban certain plastics. The United Kingdom forbids plastic straw and mixing sticks, while France soon forbids plaques and plastic objects that can not be composted.