Plankton over plastic: Canada needs a strategy to tackle marine plastic pollution

Plastic debris in the ocean is pervasive, persistent, and has grave consequences for marine ecosystems. Large debris entangles animals like whales and seals, and as plastics break down into smaller pieces — microplastics — they are eaten by plankton and make their way up the food chain.

Every year, Canadians remove over 100,000 kilograms of trash that accumulates on our shorelines. But beach cleanups aren't enough to solve the problem — Canada needs binding legal solutions to prevent and mitigate plastic pollution.

Local governments are implementing fees, bans and other rules to reduce single-use plastics, including recent plastic bag bans in cities like Montreal and Victoria. And right now a private member's motion is making its way through the Canadian parliament, calling for a national strategy to combat plastic pollution in aquatic environments. A strong national strategy must include binding laws and regulations to reduce industrial and consumer plastic waste, and should provide funding for clean-up and public education.

It's time to move beyond individual actions to address the root causes of plastic pollution. This means definitive legislation to reduce plastic pollution at the source, including single-use items and industrial microplastics. It also means funded programs to support individuals and businesses to make the shift, as well as collaboration with local, provincial, and Indigenous governments.

Let the federal government know you're ready to make the change: Demand a national strategy and binding legislation to keep plastics out of our oceans and waterways.
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