OTTAWA SHOULD JUST SUCK IT UP AND JOIN THE BAN ON PLASTIC STRAWS
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna sounded as though she was addressing a grade school class this past March in a video posted during the Economist’s World Ocean Summit.
“Did you know that by 2050 there could be more plastics in the ocean than fish? How gross is that!” Really gross. In keeping with the theme of teachable moments, the federal government then had an opportunity to take some small steps that would underpin its focus on ocean health with action.
Following the lead of British Prime Minister Theresa May, who announced in April her government’s intention to ban single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic cotton buds, could have been one such move. May directly called upon Commonwealth leaders to join her in this crusade. Our own prime minister equivocated. “I know there will be a lot of interest in Prime Minister May’s proposal and I look forward to the discussion at that time,” he said. (Why does the prime minister so frequently say so little?)
The G7 meeting is set for Charlevoix, Que., in early June. Improving the health of the world’s oceans is a keystone to those discussions, along with advancing gender equality and “growth that works for everyCritics
ne.” Canada assumed the G7 presidency in January and let’s presume that at this point in his mandate Trudeau will want to move beyond musing and contemplation with that “Plastics Charter” his government is touting.
have picked apart May’s proposed plastic straw ban as a move of little consequence and one for which the data is imprecise. On the latter point, the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs cited an impossible-to-confirm annual U.K. garbage toss of 8.5 billion single use straws, a figure derived from fast food usage.
Does the bottom line number matter all that much? Anyone watching the daily Starbucks processional of coffee cups transported with plastic splash sticks or strawsipping consumers bearing their hazelnut mocha coconut milk macchiatos knows the obvious: obscene amounts of plastics are contributing to the environment’s ill health.
France is just two years away from its ban on plastic cutlery and cups, announced in 2016. Starbucks, which years ago pledged to make 100 per cent of its coffee cups reusable or recyclable by 2015 — and then ceased to make mention of its commitment as the deadline approached — is only now coming back around to its environmental responsibility with a NextGen Cup Challenge focused on diverting coffee cups from landfills. In Britain, the Costa Coffee chain recently pledged to recycle half a billion coffee cups a year by 2020, striking private contracts with those few recycling facilities that can separate a coffee cup’s waterproof lining from its paper exterior, at least part of a fix for the estimated 2.5 billion coffee cups that are garbaged each year in the U.K. In January, Costa committed to eliminating plastic straws from all its outlets by year’s end.
“CRITICS HAVE PICKED APART MAY’S PROPOSED PLASTIC STRAW BAN”