Imagine a garbage truck filled with plastic waste. Now imagine all that plastic waste entering the ocean. Now imagine that happening every minute. It’s no secret we have a plastic pollution problem.
Last month, Canada announced their plan to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021. There’s no specific products set to be banned as of now, but it’s said that plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates and stir sticks are top contenders. With the world’s longest coastline and a quarter of the world’s fresh water, this is a positive change supported by nearly all Canadians.
Fast food chains are quickly taking responsibility and implementing plans to transition to more sustainable materials, such as paper straws and wooden cutlery. Earlier this year A&W replaced their plastic straws with compostable ones and other companies are quickly following in their footsteps. Two McDonald’s locations in Canada will soon open as “Green Concept Restaurants” to test the company’s sustainable initiatives, hopefully keeping them on track to fulfill their commitment to sustainably source and recycle all guest packaging by 2025. Canadian staple, Tim Hortons, has introduced a new, 100% recyclable lid to be rolled out by the end of summer, as well as testing options for paper straws and wooden stir sticks. Competitor, Starbucks, has also announced their plan to eliminate plastic straws by 2020.
Many Canadians have already taken it upon themselves to eliminate some single use plastics from their everyday life, using alternatives like reusable straws, containers or silicone bags rather than plastic bags, reusable produce and grocery bags, shampoo and conditioner bars, wooden toothbrushes and much more. Keeping a reusable mug on hand has also become more common and can be rewarding since many coffee shops offer a discount on drinks in a reusable mug.
While Canada’s proposed single-use plastic ban is a big step in the right direction, many are criticizing the hypocrisy regarding rules and regulations for cannabis packaging. Currently, the jars used for 3.5 grams of flower weigh approximately 70 grams, which many have claimed to be excessive. Hansen Packaging recently presented an alternative option made from renewable sources in Canada, weighing in at only 18 grams of packaging for 3.5 grams of flower. Although the Canadian government expresses concern about the amount of plastic waste being created, consumer concerns about excessive cannabis packaging have fallen on deaf ears and it appears waste will only worsen with the legalization of edibles, concentrates and more.
Aside from cannabis packaging, so many products still come packaged in plastic that can’t be recycled, but this may be slowly changing. Nestlé recently announced that they’ve developed recyclable paper packaging for the launch of their YES! snack bars.
Beauty brands such as LUSH and Ethique have also taken the sustainable route, Lush using sustainably sourced recyclable packaging and Ethique using compostable packaging. Herbal Essences also recently implemented bottles made of 25% beach plastic to a few of their products, helping clean up our coastlines.
While the demand for sustainable packaging is growing, many companies haven’t yet made the switch. However, the actions of big brands like Nestlé and Herbal Essences can certainly end up influencing the change for more sustainable product packaging across other brands.
Although scientists can’t seem to agree on specific numbers, they can all agree on one thing: The planet is suffering and we’re responsible. Every sustainable choice can mean one less piece of plastic in our oceans, and hopefully initiating a plastic ban will put us on a path to a cleaner, greener future.