Over the last six years, Canada has worked diligently to meet goals adopted under the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a pact to protect the planet and end poverty. Goals include reducing food waste and increasing access to healthy and safe food, making energy and energy products more affordable, increasing equality, and creating a more circular economy.
Plastics are essential to providing Canada with a pathway to reach each of these goals, as well as our own climate and sustainability goals. Plastics and the products they’re turned into help Canada reach sustainability goals everyday by making the lightest and most durable products with the fewest resources. Additionally, products made with plastics, when compared to alternative materials, reduce emissions, which supports sustainability and climate goals.
For example, bottles made with plastics instead of glass have saved emissions the equivalent of adding 22 coal-fired power plants, according to a study by the Imperial College of London. Life cycle assessments (LCAs), which evaluate the environmental footprint of a product from sourcing to end-of-life, have found that plastic packaging, compared to all traditional packaging options, has greater environmental benefits at every step of its life cycle in both the United States and Canada.
While LCAs are helpful to understand the full environmental impact of products, ensuring that no plastic ends up in the environment is crucial for the plastics industry and consumers alike. Industry is dedicating time, resources and people to this challenge to ensure that focus on and investment in innovative recycling technologies are front of mind to reach sustainability goals. To complement recycling efforts, companies across Canada are also designing new packaging solutions focused on sustainability by using recycled plastics and fewer resources.
Michelin tires is working with Pyrowave, a Quebec-based plastics recycler, to commercialize an advanced recycling technology (ART) that will increase the rate of recycled materials in tires and provide a sustainable end-of-life market for used tires. In British Columbia, RecycleBC is working to ensure that all milk jugs are recycled into new milk jugs. Efforts like these ensure that plastics can be used again and again across sectors and products.
Winpak, a Manitoba-based plastics manufacturer, recently launched ReFresh, a new line of sustainable food packaging designed specifically to be easily recycled with current recycling infrastructure. Dow’s RETAIN additive is also a design component that makes plastic packaging easier to reprocess and recycle.
Industry is leading the way to create innovative designs and recycling technologies that work to keep all plastic in the economy and help Canada reach sustainability goals. Instead of banning plastic products, Government should work with industry to ensure that plastics stay out of the environment without losing a resource that helps to meet our country’s sustainability goals.