Chélie Elsom stands in front of bags of recyclable plastic in Salmon Arm, plastics that, in B.C., will be remanufactured into new items. Elsom has created a petition she hopes will be presented in the House of Common, asking for a national strategy that will prohibit the use of single-use plastic. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

BC resident calls for national plan to tackle plastic

Shuswap petition calls for zero plastic waste in Canada by 2030

Shrink-wrapped vegetables in a local grocery store led one woman on a quest to get the Canadian government to institute a national plastics strategy to deal with plastic pollution.

Salmon Arm resident Chélie Elsom has created a petition that has been sponsored by Green Party leader Elizabeth May in order to be presented in the House of Commons.

About two years ago, Elsom noticed that many of the vegetables were encased in plastic. When she asked an employee why she couldn’t get a cucumber that wasn’t shrink wrapped, he told her, “That’s what Canadians want.”

“But I said I am Canadian and I don’t want that,” she says. “I thought, if I don’t want that, there must be other Canadians who don’t want it either.”

Related: Canada should aim to recycle 85% of plastics by 2025, groups say

Elsom’s subsequent research led to some apalling numbers.

“Canadians throw away 57 million plastic straws every single day and another shocking figure from the Canadian government website is that only 11 per cent of all plastics are recycled in Canada,” she says. “Here’s another shocking figure for you: every year Canadians use one billion single-use plastic grocery bags – and that’s just in Canada.”

Elsom believes that because most Canadians do not see the proof of plastic pollution every day; they throw things away without a thought as to where they go.”

“I’ve come to believe there is no such thing as throwing away. You don’t throw something away, it just becomes someone else’s problem,” she says. “But with the scope of plastic pollution now, it’s very quickly becoming everybody’s problem.”

Related: City debuts new recycling containers

Manufacturing of single-use plastics is a significant waste of resources, dollars and energy, she says, and, globally, plastic pollution poses a serious and significant environmental threat.

Elsom says one of the reasons Canada is facing a mounting plastic problem is that China, once a destination for the country’s plastic waste, closed its doors to the transfer.

Calling plastic pollution a multifaceted problem, Elsom says solutions should include a plan for education and public awareness, as well as for the responsible production, consumption, collection, processing and re-using of all plastic packaging.

Ben Van Nostrand, Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s team leader of environmental health, says he supports Elsom’s efforts to take the issue to the federal level. He points out the regional district is partnering with Recycle BC to ensure that options for recycling plastics are available at all CSRD recycling depots.

“We were one of the early adopters of the plastic category that Recycle BC recently added,” Van Nostrand says, noting he is pleased most local grocers are now charging five cents for each single-use plastic bag, another disincentive to use the bags.

“We’re pushing that stuff through the Recycle BC system for sure, and one of the positive things about them is that one of the partners is a plastic recycler in B.C. that is making new products from that material,” he says. “It’s staying within B.C. so we weren’t so heavily reliant on foreign markets.”

Related: Expanded opportunities at recycling depots

While she bemoans plastic pollution, Elsom is a supporter of the durable plastic that can be made and re-made many times over instead of being treated like garbage.

Determined to make her voice heard, Elsom received the necessary agreement to sponsor a petition, which can be found at Petition 1834. It asks the following:

“We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to commit to a National Plastic Strategy which includes:

1. An education and public awareness campaign highlighting the scope and impact of global plastic pollution;

2. A ban on the manufacturing, distribution and use of all plastics that cannot be recycled;

3. A ban on all single-use plastics that are hard to recycle and most often end up in landfills or waterways;

4. A commitment to encourage a circular plastics economy by keeping recyclable plastics out of landfills and instead reusing them in a closed-loop system effectively saving billions in manufacturing costs while producing less waste;

5. A commitment to invest in the infrastructure, on a municipal, provincial and federal level, to collect, sort, process, recycle and re-use all plastic packaging;

6. A Zero Plastic Waste Canada by 2030, by ensuring all plastic packaging is 100% recyclable, re-usable or compostable.”

Elsom says there is a large global conversation going on at the moment and she decided she wanted to have a voice in that conversation.

“I am sure there are other Canadians who would like to have a voice as well,” she says, pointing out she would like people to sign her petition, but also be more conscious of what they are throwing away.

Petition 1834 which is available for signing until Jan. 10, must have a minimum of 500 signatures in order to be presented in the House of Commons.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Feds, B.C. to expand Darkwoods Conservation area

New funding allows the national land trust to add some 7,900 hectares to the Darkwoods Conservation Area

A chance to make history in BC and Canada

This is a pivotal time in BC history, to modernize our voting… Continue reading

Questions to ask when choosing a future voting system

Do we want any control of our futures or do we want to end up like two major FPTP states close to us?

Landlord-tenant disputes highlight this week’s police blotter

Police received 54 calls for assistance from November 6 to November 12.

No Stone Left Alone honours Lower Kootenay Band veterans

Veterans and service members joined Yaqan Nukiy School students in a ceremony of song and reflection on Nov. 8 to honour Lower Kootenay Band veterans at St. Peter’s Cemetery.

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Heading soccer balls can cause damage to brain cells: UBC study

Roughly 42 per cent of children in the country play soccer, according to statistics from Heritage Canada

Most Read