Greenpeace, along with over 1,400 groups in the global Break Free From Plastic movement, is working to stop plastic waste production and plastic pollution at the source. But it’s not just environmental and social justice groups that are calling for an end to our over-plasticized, throwaway culture. People across Canada and around the world have joined the movement, taking action to reduce their own plastic footprint as well as our cumulative one. We’re seeing the beginnings of a reuse solutions revolution, and we need governments and plastic producers to join it.

Plastic has invaded our drinking water, our food chain, the air we breathe, and all corners of our planet. A dump truck’s worth of plastic enters our oceans every single minute, with devastating impacts on wildlife and their habitats. The situation has reached a global crisis level, and is in need of immediate and bold action. 

Single-use plastic items and packaging are the major sources of the problem, and to solve it we must agree on what makes up this group of waste and pollution generators.

We’re seeing the beginnings of a reuse solutions revolution, and we need governments and plastic producers to join it.

The most problematic and unnecessary plastics that regularly get dumped in landfills, or burned despite recyclability claims, are most often found in the environment, are toxic to human health, or have clear or existing alternatives. These plastics include, but are not limited to: PVC, bags, cups and lids, black plastic, oxo-degradable plastic, bottles, straws, utensils, expanded polystyrene, multilayered wrappers and packaging, and take-out containers. Less than 9% of our plastic is recycled. Throwaway plastic items and packaging make up almost half of all the waste we produce.

For Canada to move into an era of zero plastic waste, and to help curb the global plastic pollution epidemic — and move towards a truly circular economy — we need to create a whole new system with a reduction of these plastics, and all single-use items and packaging, as paramount. We must stop trying to make waste better, and instead not make any at all. We must transform how we produce and consume. Now more than ever, we need a reuse revolution.

More sustainable product delivery systems exist and can be scaled up. Reuse, refill, collaborative consumption, and “product-as-a-service” models are blossoming in all corners of the world. Investments in reuse and these types of models, in lieu of bio-based single-use alternatives and end-of-pipe false solutions, can set us on a better course for future generations.