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NDP MPs Look to Tackle Plastics Problem

The federal NDP are pushing forward the Zero Waste Packaging Act, as MP Nathan Cullen and local MP Wayne Stetski hosted a Town Hall in Cranbrook to discuss the “plastics crisis” and hear the East Kootenay’s thoughts on the plastics and recycling problem.

Bill C-429 was first introduced by Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley on February 20, 2019, in the House of Commons which looks to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to “prohibit the use of consumer product packaging unless it is made of a material that is recyclable or compostable.”

Cullen told Summit 107 that the federal government knows that 90% of plastics that are recycled in Canada end up in landfills, and that plastic waste is an issue that can’t continue to be swept under the rug or passed off to other countries.

“Out of sight, out of mind doesn’t work anymore, it really doesn’t,” said Cullen. “It’s costing us $3.5 billion to $5 billion a year to take care of this stuff and it doesn’t have to. I’d rather spend that money on just about anything else rather than digging big holes in the earth and covering it over and leaving it for future generations.”

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“We know that the value of plastics actually is something you can measure economically and we’re dumping tens of billions of dollars of value into landfills, which are also costing us billions of dollars as taxpayers every year to build more landfills and cover up the old ones.”

Holding a Town Hall at the Cranbrook Public Library on Wednesday, July 23, 2019, with Wayne Stetski, MP for Kootenay-Columbia, both NDP MPs wanted to hear the reality of recyclables and waste management in the East Kootenay.

In the Zero Waste Packaging Act, the long-term goal as part of the G7’s Ocean Plastics Charter is for all plastics used in Canada to be 100% recyclable, reusable or recoverable plastics by 2030.

“While it seems ambitious to have an end line of where the plastic waste crisis is a thing of the past, if we don’t have any urgency to it, we’re just going to keep muttering along and people aren’t going to be given those choices as consumers, as voters, to be able to make the right choices,” said Cullen. “I think that’s what you always aim for in good policy, make it easy for people to do the right thing, don’t make it hard, don’t make it incredibly expensive.”

In the federal government report The Last Straw: Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution in Canada, 21 recommendations were made by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Some of those recommendations include that all plastic goods in Canada be made from at least 50% recycled plastic by 2030, to prohibit the export of plastic waste to a foreign country to be landfilled, among other social, economic, and environmental recommendations.

“There will potentially be new standards around plastics and waste water and drinking water in the future and one of the recommendations that I made sure was in here was that the federal government would provide funding to municipalities,” Stetski told Summit 107. “If they’re going to set regulations it should come with money, they shouldn’t set regulations and then force all of the cost on municipalities.”

“We only recycle about 9% of the plastics currently in Canada,” said Stetski. “One of the reasons for that is it’s actually cheaper right now for industry to make plastics from scratch than it is to recycle it.”

Cullen and Stetski believe now is the time to introduce a bill on plastic waste and start making strides to tackle the issue.

“I think we’ve crossed some sort of tipping point in the public’s conscience,” said Cullen. “If you go to any school in September and talk to little kids and tell them the problem, they think we’re crazy. Why are we possibly doing this and is there another way to do it, and yes there is. That’s always a good sign if you look to the next generation and they think we’re nuts, it’s time to probably jump on board and try to figure it out.”

Bill C-429 is expected to be back before the House of Commons when they next sit on September 16, 2019, after the summer break.

More: Bill C-429 Zero Waste Packaging Act

More: The Last Straw: Turning the Tide on Plastic Pollution in Canada

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