Petition Launched as Plastic Pollution Continues to Threaten Wildlife

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plastic pollution

The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) is launching a new petition urging the federal government to reduce plastic litter by advancing sustainable packaging initiatives.

“If we are to truly address the harmful effects of plastic on our wildlife, we must look upstream, to the source of the pollution and find a solution there,” said Rick Bates, CEO of CWF. “We urge the federal government to make Canada an international leader in reducing plastic waste in our rivers, lakes, and oceans by moving Canada away from single-use plastics.”

CWF is concerned that Canada’s current vision for waste does not make reducing plastic litter a priority.  A sustainable packaging initiative was developed by the government in 2012 but it has not been fully implemented. As a result, many marine and fresh water species ingest plastics or become entangled in plastic debris.  For example, sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jelly fish, their primary food source.

CWF is working with the Plastic Oceans Foundation Canada to raise awareness of the consequences of plastic pollution highlighted through the documentary “A Plastic Ocean.” The stats are alarming:

*   More than eight million tons of plastic are dumped in oceans every year
*   About 50 per cent of plastic is used just once and thrown away
*   Packaging is estimated to account for about 40 per cent of total plastic usage worldwide
*   An estimated 14 per cent of all litter comes from beverage containers. When caps and labels are considered, the number is higher
*   If current trends continue, estimates are there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050
*   Half of all single use plastics have an average useful timeline of 12 minutes
*   It takes 250 ml oil and three litres of water to make a one litre bottle of water

“When did we become the plastic generation? We have produced more plastic in the last 10 years than we did in the previous century. We are literally addicted to it,” says Emma Langson, Executive Director of Plastic Oceans Foundation Canada. “We are working together to inspire people to rethink their single use plastic behaviour and trigger real social change. We urge Canada to be part of the solution not part of the problem by choosing reusable not disposable plastic, to safeguard the world’s oceans, animal life, and our own health.”

CWF strives to conserve Canadian aquatic species and habitats through a variety of research and education programs:

*   Supporting the work of the Canadian Marine Animal Response Alliance (CMARA)
*   Partnering with McGill University on research to understand the extent of the impacts of microplastics on wildlife in the St. Lawrence River
*   Studying the patterns of Steller Sea Lions entangled in plastic off Vancouver Island in order to identify and eliminate the cause of these situations

CWF’s sustainable packaging petition will be presented to federal government in the fall. CWF is also encouraging the public to reduce dependence on single use plastics such as straws, cutlery, food and beverage containers. Suggestions include:

*   Drinking tap water rather than bottled water
*   Bringing your own refillable beverage containers for coffee to avoid use of disposable lids and cups
*   Declining plastic straws

“Plastic has become an everyday part of our lives and society, we do not even think about it. It is the lid of our coffee cups or the bags from the grocery stores. Single-use plastics are often discarded with little thought of where they end up. But these plastics are making their way into our waterways, lakes, rivers and eventually into our oceans,” said Sean Brillant, CWF Senior Conservation Biologist for Marine Programs. “As a scientist and a Canadian who loves his wildlife heritage, I tell you:  this issue is incredibly important. Every action and every voice contributes to fixing this problem.”

For more information (including a link to the petition) and to get involved visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca.

About the Canadian Wildlife Federation:

The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature.


Release source: Canadian Wildlife Federation | Photo: Wikimedia Commons (epSos.de)