Did you know a single-use plastic shopping bag is used for a total of 12 minutes on average1? By comparison, that same bag can take up to 1,000 years to break down in a landfill2. Plastic does have valuable uses—however, the issue arises when we have an unsustainable reliance on single-use plastic products.
But Aren’t All Plastics Recyclable?
According to the Government of Canada, only 9% of our plastics end up being properly recycled3. Across the country, plastic pollution has been found in our shorelines and waterways, soil, indoor and outdoor air, drinking water and food.
Currently, plastic packaging makes up approximately half of all plastic waste in Canada4. Packaging suffers from low recycling collection rates, as well as high losses during the sorting and processing stages.
An issue is that the majority of plastic packaging is designed in a way that limits its recyclability and contaminates recycling and organics streams. Additionally, plastic labelling often provides inaccurate information to Canadians on whether an item should be put in a recycling or organics bin.
Beyond the issue with sorting, approximately 20,000 tonnes of plastic packaging end up in our environment as pollution on an annual basis.
Armed with this information, plastic manufactured items were designated as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in 2021.
Ban in Canada
Knowing that plastics are having an increasingly detrimental impact on our environment, the Government of Canada formalized the Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations in June 2022.
These regulations ban the manufacture, import and sale of single-use plastic items like checkout bags, cutlery, ring carriers, stir sticks, straws, and foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics.
These six single-use plastic items included in the ban are deemed to be prevalent in the environment; pose a threat of harm to wildlife and their habitats; be hard to recycle; and have readily available alternatives.
The timeline for the Government of Canada ban is as follows:
|Item||Manufacture and import for sale in Canada||Sale in Canada|
|Checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware, stir sticks, straws||December 20, 2022||December 20, 2023|
|Ring carriers||June 20, 2023||June 20, 2024|
This means that by next December, you will likely see these items begin to phase out of our marketplace. In fact, you may have noticed many Canadian businesses have already made the switch to reusable or recyclable versions.
WHAT QUADREAL IS DOING
In order to proactively engage the key stakeholders in our buildings, QuadReal is taking the following actions:
- Encouraging food court vendors to switch from single-use plastic to reusable or compostable alternatives. As part of this, QuadReal is exploring the pilot of a reusable program in a food court in 2023.
- Encouraging office tenants to review their single-use items and reduce where possible.
- Increasing onsite composting capacity in office and retail buildings (in line with transitioning away from single-use plastics).
The Story Continues: Doing Your Part
In total, half of all plastics produced are designed for single-use purposes – used just once and then thrown away5. Make simple changes in your everyday life to reduce your plastic footprint:
- Replace single-use products with limited utility in favour of materials that are designed to be used again. The Government of Canada has published guidance to help make decisions on alternative products that prevent pollution.
- Support organizations that have eliminated or minimized their plastic packaging by switching to alternatives that use renewable resources and biological sources (rather than fossil fuels). If plastic is needed, look for organizations that leverage post-consumer recycled content.
- Calculate your own plastics footprint.
Learn more on the Waste Reduction Week in Canada’s website.
The story of plastic