"The growth of plastics production during the past 70 years has outpaced that of any other manufactured material. The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications—durability and resistance to degradation—make these materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate. Thus, without a well-designed and tailor-made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans are conducting a singular experiment on a global scale, in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet." ~Professor Roland Geyer, Professor in Industrial Ecology and Pollution Prevention, and author and co-author on several reports on plastic pollution.1Canada is certainly an example of what Professor Geyer is talking about. Domestic demand for plastic on an annual basis is estimated at 4,667 kilotonnes or more than 125 kg per capita, according to the Economic Study of the Canadian Plastic Industry, Markets and Waste that was commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada [Deloitte and Cheminfo Services Inc.]2. It is a challenge to find a product in Canada that doesn't have plastic somewhere in it or about it (packaging, price stickers, component pieces, the whole product, takeaway bags or containers etc.).
GBF’s Plastics Diversion ‘2.0’. There are many opportunites for you to help and learn more.
1. Click on these programs to learn you can participate
- Trapping trash devices. Catching pollution before it gets to water. For municipalities and marinas.
- High school citizen science opportunity – volunteer your class to sort and classify types of plastic waste
- Learn about diverting microplastic waste from washing your clothes
- Schedule presenters to learn ways to move towards zero plastic waste
- Join Plastic-Free Georgian Bay
2. How does this fit with what the federal and provincial governments are doing, and what they have found out? Surveys tell us you want to know.Click on a topic below:
If you want to explore more on what the federal and Ontario governments are doing, please refer to point 2 on the menu to your left (or above if you are on mobile).
GBF receives funding support from ECCC and you will see many plastic waste reduction goals reflected in the following programs of GBF's Diversion 2.0. These programs seek to engage citizens like you in different ways to reduce plastic waste. Scroll down for the programs or pick from point 1 of the menu above.
Driving distribution of technology to divert garbage and plastics in strategic locations.
Why are we working with these partners and our funders and donors to do this? We know: a)Microscopic pieces of plastic and fibres are getting into Georgian Bay through many methods including washing machines and the break down of litter, storm and wastewater over flows and more. b) Bigger litter items are ending up on our shorelines from a lack of care or unintended littering though unsecured items blowing into the water, storm and wastewater overflows and more. (For the story 2020 shoreline cleanups in Georgian Bay and the top litter items, click here. ) Reduction is possible, and we are aiming to DO IT and PROVE IT in several ways you will read about; this segment focuses on technology - the installment of Seabins, Gutter Bins, and Trash Traps.
What is a Seabin V5?
The V5 Seabin unit is a “trash skimmer” designed to be installed in the water of Marinas, Yacht Clubs, Ports and any water body with a calm environment and suitable services available.
What is a Gutter Bin and what does it do?
- The Mundus Bag® is designed to allow water to drain from the streets even if it becomes completely full, thereby ensuring no flooding.
- There are different kinds of Mundus Bags, for trash and vegetative waste to plastic, sediment, hydrocarbons and heavy metals, meaning they can be customized to locations, pollution issues, and seasons.
- The estimated life span of the bin is 25 years, with Mundus Bag replacement every 3-6 months depending on the amount and types of garbage and hydrocarbons captured. Warranty is 7 years.
- Service interval depends upon climate, pollutant load, & infrastructure constraints.
- No special equipment required.
- Easily removed and cleaned by staff/volunteers.
What are the benefits for Georgian Bay? Each bin can collect an estimated 210 pounds of garbage per year, more if they are located in a very high-traffic, littering area. The Original Gutter Bin has the capability of having branding on the cover grate to help build public awareness and company social responsibility. GBF believes that if these were installed, they would be the first in Canada.
What is a Trash Trap and what does it do?
If you are in the right area, and have sometime, you could help the Georgian Bay community understand what the greatest sources of its litter are by characterizing what these devices catch one or twice this summer. To see if you can help, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s where your high school class can help
Here’s what you can do:
There is no perfect footprint-free solution, but working towards reduction and reduction of microfibre pollution that goes into our water is a great goal.
1. Gold standard –purchase a washing machine filter to install on your washing machine (Filtrol 160 from Wexco or Lint Luv’R, est. $200 to 300, make sure CDN distributor if you are buying from Canada). This solution isn’t always possible for every household.
2.In addition/other ways to help. Buy clothes for durability if you have to buy, as they are less likely to shed (most prolific shedders acrylic and polyester). Reduce frequency of washing, and strive for FULL loads with COLD water. If you need a new washer, buy a front-loader (less agitation to the clothes).
3.Support these programs. Your donation to GBF is so critical to keep the progress going. Donate by clicking here.
4. Support Ontario Private Member’s Bill 279, Environmental Protection Amendment Act (Microplastics Filters for Washing Machines), 2021 . Here’s how you can do it. Click here5. Learn more
- Share learning - set up an online presentation by a GBF staffer with your community group in Georgian Bay. We try to accomodate as many requests as we can. If you are interested please email email@example.com so that we can work out the details.
- More information and videos about microplastics and the Parry Sound filter project and the Collingwood project. Click here.
- A PDF download on tips to reduce microfiber plastics from getting into the environment. Click here.
- Overview of microfibres, effects, and update on the filter projects to date. A one-hour video from a webinar June 2020. Click here.
The Canadian domestic market for plastics is about 4,667 kilotonnes (kt) on an annual basis. In a more relatable way – that is 125 kg of plastic use (much of almost instantly discarded or lightly used ) per person per year.
That generates a lot of plastic waste that is never really going to go away and is presently mostly ending up in harder-to-find landfills. Only 9% is recycled. Sadly, about 1% (29,000 tonnes) of it is released as plastic waste into the environment. If we continue the status quo on our plastic plastic pollution, it is estimated this amoung could increase to 40,000 tonnes by 2030.4
Where in the environment? A Rochester Institute of Technology study estimated that 10 million kilograms of plastic enter into the Great Lakes every year. Sure – volunteers can clean up some of it – but it is mostly breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces but never really going away, and this is going on continuously.
So what does the public think about this? An Angus Reid Poll in 2019 found that Canadians care about it a lot - Nine out of 10 respondents to a survey about the impact of plastic waste on the environment say they are concerned or very concerned about the problem. Fast forward to annus horribulus 2020, the pandemic has dampened some public enthusiasm for banning single use plastic products which may impact timing but a recent poll still shows that 87% of Canadians still care about the effects of plastic to the environment.
Clearly so many us really care, but many may not know what we can do about it. Here are some suggestions to get started:
1. Schedule a presentation.
GBF is offering virtual presentations, workshops, and tips to help people reduce and reuse their plastic waste in their own households and outdoor spaces in Georgian Bay. These presentations can also include information on unencapsulated dock foam, which is littering our shores, and what dock owners and citizens can do about it. If you are interested in coordinating such an effort, or hearing if there is one scheduled that you can join, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to work out details and timing.
We can accomodate different age groups, and interest groups, and institutions.
GBF wants to work with interested camp or children's groups to execute Trout Unlimited Canada's Yellow Fish Road awareness campaigns. It's a campaign that engages children to paint fish near drains to remind Canadians that what goes down these drains ends up in our freshwater, and therefore often has plastic litter components from wrappings, cigarette butts, gum, bottle caps and more.
They will reinforce the message by distributing door-hanger pamphlets to educate nearby residents about the symbols and what they represent.
If you are interested in coordinating such an effort, or hearing if there is one scheduled that you can join, please email email@example.com to work out details and timing.
Inspired by Plastic-Free Parry Sound, volunteers to this group will help work on a number of programs and tactics to reduce plastic waste in Georgian Bay.
Objectives and tactics could include:
- Starting conversations with local businesses about their "lightly-used" plastic consumption, and working with them to determine ways to reduce its utilization.
- Enlisting schools and employers to inventory their "lightly-used" plastic consumption, and working with them to determine ways to reduce its utilization.
- Finding other groups and organizations who are open to hearing about plastic litter, use, and reduction; and working on information or materials to help set and achieve goals.
If you would like to join Plastic-Free Georgian Bay, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you are part of a group that would be interested in hearing a presentation or participating in a workshop on plastic waste and reduction, please email email@example.com
The Ocean Plastics Charter
- "Working with industry towards 100% reusable, recyclable, or, where viable alternatives do not exist, recoverable, plastics by 2030.
- Working with industry towards increasing recycled content by at least 50% in plastic products where applicable by 2030.
- Working with industry and other levels of government, to recycle and reuse at least 55% of plastic packaging by 2030 and recover 100% of all plastics by 2040.
- Increasing domestic capacity to manage plastics as a resource, prevent their leakage into the marine environment from all sources, and enable their collection, reuse, recycling, recovery and/or environmentally-sound disposal.
- Promoting the research, development and use of technologies to remove plastics and microplastics from waste water and sewage sludge.
- Encouraging campaigns on marine litter in G7 countries with youth and relevant partners to raise public awareness, collect data and remove debris from coasts and shorelines globally."5
Less of this. More of moving from a linear plastic economy to a circular plastic economy
- Extended producer responsibility for plastics
- National performance requirements and standards for plastics, including targets and timelines for increasing recycled content
- Assessing infrastructure needs for improved plastic lifecycle management6
What is Extended Producer Responsibility?
- "common material categories and product definitions
- performance standards to guide reuse and recycling programs
- options to encourage innovation and reduce costs
- standard monitoring and verification approaches"7
Ontario’s Draft Regulations around the Blue Box Program
The draft regulations require producers to operate a "common collection system to collect blue box recycling from every eligible source in Ontario and manage recycling in a safe and environmentally sound manner. Producers would be allowed to engage producer responsibility organizations (PROs) to help them achieve their regulated outcomes."9 There are some exemptions. Some detracting comments this author has seen include concerns that the goals aren't high enough, particularly on plastic and that enforcement and penalties may be too soft.10 Other comments note that consumers will pay for it anyways within the costs of goods (i.e. your grocery bill might go up by $40 to $50 a month 11). It is also probable that those costs will go down as more is invested into recyclability, and plastics used in packaging are streamlined. That would be a win-win - way less plastic waste, and getting to a point where it doesn't impact the price of goods. Either way, we can't keep pretending the current recycling regime is working and ignore the costs to the environment. As noted, public comment is open until December 3rd here. Here are the targets outlined in the draft legislation:
Eliminating certain sources
Beverage six-pack rings
Food packaging made from plastics that are difficult to recycle
A Georgian Bay initiative to eliminate Polystyrene Foam pollution from unencapsualted docks
The role of science
The government has noted that there is enough evidence that macro and microplastic is everywhere and has multiple sources, and that the macro form of plastics pollution is proven to cause "harm" to animals and their habitat. The government is supporting more research into microplastics around effects on animals, the environment, and human health. While we wait for more, a growing body of research shows that the effects of microplastics on animal life are far-reaching. Researchers have investigated the impacts of microplastics on gene expression, individual cells, survival and reproduction. Mounting evidence shows the negative impacts can include decreased feeding and growth, hormone system disruption, decreased fertility, as well as other lethal and sub-lethal effects. While some effects are due to ingestion stress (physical blockage), there are also risks to ecosystems in the Great Lakes from the chemicals in plastic used in production or the potential absorption of chemicals into microplastics from the surrounding environment (e.g. flame retardants like PBDEs). More and more research shows animals and humans are consuming microplastics. One example is from the Rochman Lab research, which found microplastics in the gut of every sample of fish from Lakes Huron and Ontario. It’s not just fish. Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the State University of New York at Fredonia tested Great Lakes beer, globally sourced tap water, and commercial sea salt to determine if they were contaminated with microfibres. They found that 81% of the tap water samples contained microfibres, as did 100% of the beer and salt samples tested! Furthermore, a University of Victoria 2019 study estimated that humans consume between 39,000 to 52,000 particles annually, not including airborne particles.
"Replacing one thing with another requires consideration", notes Tamara Galloway, Professor of Ecotoxicology at the University of Exeter. This is quite a complex process, and really needs to be looked at regionally as things like transport make a big difference in carbon emissions. For example, she works with the ExeMPLaR project in the South West of England which is looking at a "comprehensive, systematic and coordinated approach.. to create a regional circular plastics economy". The EU has a target of getting to 35% petrochemcial and 65% biopolymers from about 99% and 1%. A bioploymer is biodegradable, made from more sutainable biological sources, and non-petrol. Just looking at the impact of say plastic bottles made of polyethelene or polyproplene involves many assessments not only of those plastic and carbon pollution footprints but also their potential replacements, whether they are bottles made with glass, one-use bottles made with bioplastics, or rigid multi-use cups made from recycled plastics. Each of these gets looked at from a total footprint perspective - life cycle modelling, human health evidence synthesis, and ecotoxicity testing. Their research isn't complete on it, but it looks like glass unless it is at 50% weight is not a better choice environmentally in that region. The other two options have some very positive aspects for sure especially it would seem for the cup that gets reused verses thousands of single cups, but they are still weighing ecotoxicity on the recycled plastic cup option and other factors on the bioplastic option (even though it is non-petrol and bioplastics have low toxicity).13 This is very complex and important work.
Yes there are challenging barriers to work through to get to zero waste
- 1. No contest right now. Primary plastics (new production)outcompete secondary production (recycled); the latter suffering comparitively due to its small quanitities, inconsistent availability and expensive 'labour-intensive' methods to get to quality plastic from old plastic. The primary market is currently much more reliable, an important factor for businesses.
2. The low rates of collection contribute the above point. 25% of plastics are collected, but only a small portion of that is usable becasue of 'contamination' and inadequate technology (i.e. sorting etc.).
3. Recovery is poor, a contributor the previous points. Landfill is cheaper which is astonishing. The volume on recovery that exists is not high, and is worsened by further reductions as noted in point 2. More investment is needed in innovatins and technologies.
4. The cost and cleanup of plastic pollution is mostly born by the public: local governments, volunteers, and NGOs who can't get it all. A more centralized and systemic way of tackling this huge problem at its source could be more efficient.
5. Food and Health safety. There needs to be caution around reused plastic in certain circumstances.
6. Energy efficiency and consumer safety need to be considered.
Getting to Solutions: End of Life responsibility – improve the value recovery of plastic products and packaging
Thank you to these funders who have made this program possible
References and sources.GBF would like to give thanks and acknowledge these refernces and sources. We try our best to get it right, but if we made a mistake, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the url of this page and your issue. 1Professor Roland Geyer from this website page: https://www.rolandgeyer.com/plastics 2Deloitte and Cheminfo Services Inc.,"Economic Study of the Canadian Plastic Industry, Markets and Waste."Cat. No.: En4-366/1-2019E-PDFISBN: 978-0-660-30447-2. © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 2019. http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2019/eccc/En4-366-1-2019-eng.pdf 3Matthew J. Hoffman, Eric Hittinger, "Inventory and transport of plastic debris in the Laurentian Great Lakes" Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 115, Issues 1–2, 2017,Pages 273-281, ISSN 0025-326X, (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X1630981X)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.11.061.. 4The Government of Canada invests in research on plastic pollution in our environment. Nov13,2020. Cision. Retrieved in Nov 2020 at https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/the-government-of-canada-invests-in-research-on-plastic-pollution-in-our-environment-892278856.html#:~:text=Plastic%20pollution%20has%20been%20shown%20to%20harm%20animals,and%20intestinal%20systems%2C%20hindered%20feeding%2C%20and%20possible%20starvation. 5Ocean Plastics Charter. On the Government of Canada website. Retrived in Nov 2020 at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/managing-reducing-waste/international-commitments/ocean-plastics-charter.html 6A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products: discussion paper. Government of Canada wesbite. Retrieved in Nov 2020 at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/plastics-proposed-integrated-management-approach.html#toc19 7A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products: discussion paper. Government of Canada wesbite. Retrieved in Nov 2020 at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/plastics-proposed-integrated-management-approach.html#toc19 8What is Extended Producer Responsibility? FROm the Stewardship Ontario website. Retrived in Nov 2020 from https://stewardshipontario.ca/what-is-extended-producer-responsibility/#:~:text=Extended%20Producer%20Responsibility%20%28EPR%29%20describes%20the%20comprehensive%20responsibility,the%20environmental%20impact%20of%20their%20products%20and%20packaging. 9Ontario Developing a Stronger, More Effective Blue Box Program. From the Ontario Provincial website. Retrieved in Nov 2020 at https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/58866/ontario-developing-a-stronger-more-effective-blue-box-program 10Action Alert: Clean up Ontario’s Blue Box program! Retrieved in Nov 2020 from https://act.environmentaldefence.ca/page/71228/action/1?ea.tracking.id=eblast&ea.url.id=5028815 11Dunn, Trevor. Ontario's new blue box plan will recycle more, but it'll cost you more as well, experts say. Oct 20,2020. CBC News website. Retroved in Nov 2020 at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-s-new-blue-box-plan-will-recycle-more-but-it-ll-cost-you-more-as-well-experts-say-1.5768577 12Guide to understanding the Canadian Environmental Protection Act: chapter 3. Government of Canada website. Retrived Nov 2020 at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/publications/guide-to-understanding/chapter-3.html 13Guide to understanding the Canadian Environmental Protection Act: chapter 3. Government of Canada website. Retrived Nov 2020 at https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/publications/guide-to-understanding/chapter-3.html A portion of a video from the Microplastics Health Effects Webinar Series, by the Southern California Coastal Water Reserach Project. Tamara Galloway's presentation starts about 1 hour in. She is from the University of Exeter. https://vimeo.com/sccwrp/review/480010525/56ec962965 Sources and refernces used in section "Eliminating certian sources" https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/marketplace-poll-on-plastics-1.5084301, https://gowlingwlg.com/en/insights-resources/articles/2020/federal-government-list-toxic-single-use-plastic/?utm_source=vuture&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vuture/ https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/plastics-proposed-integrated-management-approach.html#toc21,https://www.ctvnews.ca/climate-and-environment/canada-banning-plastic-bags-straws-cutlery-and-other-single-use-items-by-the-end-of-2021-1.5135968 https://www.ctvnews.ca/climate-and-environment/what-is-and-is-not-included-in-canada-s-ban-on-single-use-plastics-1.5136387, https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2020/10/canada-one-step-closer-to-zero-plastic-waste-by-2030.html https://nationalpost.com/life/food/plastic-waste-is-piling-up-during-covid-19-as-support-for-single-use-bans-falters-study-show Sources used in microplastics/fibres/filters tips
Ballent, Anika; Corcoran, Patricia L.; Madden, Odile; Helm, Paul A.; Longstaffe, Fred J. “Sources and Sinks of Microplastics in Canadian Lake Ontario Nearshore, Tributary and Beach Sediments.” Western Science. 2016. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.06.037 Cox, Kieran D.; Covernton, Garth A.; Davies, Hailey L.; Dower John F.; Juanes, Francis; Dudas, Sarah E. “Human Consumption of Microplastics” Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019. Publication Date: June 5, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b01517. Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society Erdle, Lisa. https://georgianbayforever.org/flipbook/winter2018/6/ Eriksen, Marcus; Mason,Sherri; Wilson, Stiv; Box, Caroyln; Zellers, Ann; Edwards, William; Farley, Hannah; Amato, Stephen. “Microplastic pollution in the surface waters of the Laurentian Great Lakes.” ScienceDirect. Published online Oct. 25, 2013. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.10.007 Hartline, Niko L.; Bruce , Nicholas J.; Karba , Stephanie N.; Ruff, Elizabeth O.; Sonar , Shreya U., and Patricia A. Holden. “Microfiber Masses Recovered from Conventional Machine Washing of New or Aged Garments.” September 30, 2016. 2016 American Chemical Society. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03045. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2016, 50, 11532−11538Kosuth Mary; Mason, Sherri A.; Wattenberg, Elizabeth V., “Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt.” PLOS.org. Apr.11, 2018. Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0194970 McIlwraith, Hayley K.; Lin, Jack; Erdle, Lisa M.; Mallos, Nicholas; Diamond, Miriam L.; Rochman, C.M “Capturing microfibers – marketed technologies reduce microfiber emissions from washing machines”, Marine Pollution Bulletin Volume 139, February 2019, retrieved from ScienceDirect at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X18308634?dgcid=author Napper, Imogen E. and Thompson, Richard C. “Release of synthetic microplastic plastic fibres from domestic washing machines: Effects of fabric type and washing conditions” , Marine Pollution Bulletin ,Volume 112, Issues 1–2, 15 November 2016, retrieved from ScienceDirect at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X16307639 Other sources not named above https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=dafe7e93-6cdd-4ee5-87ba-776283b19b32 https://www.caledonenterprise.com/news-story/10269089-peel-cracking-down-on-blue-box-contamination-in-brampton-caledon-and-mississauga-with-new-program/ https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-2579 https://www.ccme.ca/en/current_priorities/waste/waste/strategy-on-zero-plastic-waste.html