BC’s Plastic Pileup


Canada has a huge plastic waste problem, with around 2.8 million tones of plastic waste ending up in Canadian landfills every year. That is equivalent to the weight of 24 CN towers! 

Just the Glenmore Landfill alone receives 220,000 tonnes of garbage per year that is disposed of in the landfill and only 70,000 tonnes of that waste is recycled or processed. That includes green-waste that is composted, cement and asphalt that is reused for roads and materials that are sent off-site for further other purposes.

Canada makes up under 0.5 of the worlds population, but uses 1.4 percent of all plastic produced. Every year, Canada uses 4.5 tonnes of plastic, which adds up to 125 kilos per person. Not all this waste stays in the country though, as 12 percent gets shipped off to Southeast Asia, where it is supposed to be recycled. These countries however, often do not have the infrastructure to properly recycle this waste, which results in it being either burned or entering the environment there. This causes a much bigger pollution problem in Southeast Asia and takes the problem away from Canadian land. 

To fight this problem, the British Columbian government proposed initiatives that will reduce the amount of plastic waste that is created. The first step that the government has taken, is to recognize that waste prevention is the most important part of a reduction. This approach as led the NDP to propose a ban on single use plastics in British Columbia

If implemented, would ban straws and stir sticks, six-pack rings, grocery bags, cutlery and difficult to recycle takeout containers and if followed, would prevent 23,000 tonnes of plastic from entering the environment over a ten year period. Other newly proposed recycling regulations would allow a broader amount of things, such as mattresses, packaging and paper products to be recycled. On top of that, the deposit-refund system would be expanded to cover all beverage containers, and changing the deposit-refund to 10 cents for all containers. The Canadian government also put forward that they want all packaging in Canada to contain at least 50 percent recycled content by 2030. 

Even though there is a big issue with plastic waste and recycling in British Columbia, there are a lot of measures that can be taken over the next few years to help and reduce this problem.