By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
With Durham banning single-use plastics at its headquarters, regional chair John Henry is pushing for the province to jump onside as well.
Henry recently penned a letter to Premier Doug Ford, stating “these plastics are considered litter and impact the global environment.”
He says jurisdictions such as Vancouver and Nova Scotia have already banned the use of single-use plastics, but believes more needs to be done closer to home.
“Currently in Ontario, municipalities are responsible for operating residential blue box systems, organic Green Bin programs and managing residual waste disposal,” says Henry. “Plastic packaging as well as compostable packaging are a growing component of these waste streams. Many of the plastic materials placed in the market do not have any viable end use and often displace recyclable paper, metal and glass packaging. Municipalities in Ontario need the province to act to stop the growth of these difficult-to-manage, single-use plastics.”
According to Henry, the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (RRCEA) currently gives the government the authority to address what he calls “the growing plastic problem.”
The act contains provisions which Henry says requires producers to reduce the generation of plastic waste, as well as to promote better types of plastics.
The act also encourages the use of alternatives which are more sustainable compared to single-use plastics, and also gives the government the power to ban the use of unnecessary plastic packaging.
Henry writes provincial leadership is needed in three areas in order to address the issue. The first area is to encourage the development of plastics recycling markets.
Henry says plastic markets might not exist due to either technology or economic barriers, but the province should still “encourage a ban on these plastics or, at the very least, energy recovery solutions.”
Henry also calls on the province to “conduct a full review of single-use items with bans enacted on those single-use items deemed most detrimental to the environment due to lack of end use markets.”
Lastly, Henry believes the province must ensure producers and operators proactively seek out alternatives to single-use plastics, and to make sure these alternatives are recyclable.
Henry says many of these actions are already under consideration in the province’s Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities: Discussion Paper, and believes they should be implemented as soon as possible.
“The Region of Durham encourages the premier and Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to use the authority under the RRCEA to proactively address the growing single-use plastic problem in Ontario and to work with the federal government to establish a national plastics reduction program for Canada,” writes Henry.
The regional chair concludes these actions would work towards restoring Ontario’s recycling and recovery industry, and also create new jobs in the province.