August 8, 2023

Sustainability Highlight: Canada

Climate Change affects different parts of the world differently. In Canada, the climate is warming twice as fast as the global average and in certain parts of Canada, like Northern Canada, that number is three times as high. This is very scary for Canadians, and should raise alarms for all of us to take action. Already, over the last 10 years the average annual insurance payout from extreme weather in Canada has quadrupled, this number is now sitting at 1.8 billion dollars a year. Extreme weather is a new reality all of us are facing that is a side effect of our changing climate. With those things being said, Canada is already using 70% eco-friendly non-greenhouse gas emitting energy sources, and in the last 5 years, Canada has installed more wind energy generators than all forms of electricity, which is taking big steps in the right direction. Canadians recognize the challenges they are facing and are working hard to combat climate change and reduce their emissions to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Part of Canada's effort to combat climate change is a plan to ban plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, ringed beverage containers, cutlery, and food serviceware made from plastic in the future. They also have a plan to move to zero plastic waste by 2030. Because of this, just like the rest of the world, Canada is working on finding alternatives to plastic. They are allocating 25 million dollars into making innovations in bioplastics. A company called Axipolymer Inc., based in Montreal, is working on creating a recyclable multilayer film for food packaging. Both of these efforts will help combat climate change while decreasing plastic use in Canada.

In Canada, Toronto especially, there is a robust curbside recycling system. The waste haulers accept many recyclables such as papers, cardboards, plastics, glass items, and metal items. What makes Toronto unique is that they also offer soft/stretchy plastic items for curbside recycling. This is uncommon in most curbside programs because flexible plastics are hard to recycle, they get caught in machinery and require extra labor to sort. The reason that recycling flexible plastics is so important is because in Ontario, Canada alone, 7 million plastic bags a day are used and each bag takes around 1,000 years in a landfill to decompose. So that bag that you use to pick up your groceries will still exist 10 generations from now or longer. Canada is doing a great job of recognizing the issue of plastic use, and working hard to deal with these materials in an educated way.  

Another way for Canadians to handle flexible plastic films such as plastic bags effectively is utilizing the Plastic Bag Take-Back Program. There are locations all over Canada where residents can return their plastic bags following three easy steps! First, turning the bags inside out. Second, placing all plastic shopping bags into one bag, and third, dropping them off at a Take-Back bin at a participating store! This is just another way to ensure that your plastic bags do not end up in landfills. Through all of these action items, Canada is putting a lot of effort into being eco-friendly and it is awesome to see a country take the necessary steps to combat climate change.