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Plastics, Plastics<div class="ExternalClass98ED37C211824CED9CF5CBB53741F635">before-green</div>

The Issue

​​​​​​​​A Global Challenge

Plastics are convenient, durable, and play an essential role in our economy, but plastic waste and pollution are leaking into our environment and choking our oceans at an alarming rate. Today’s linear plastics economy represents a loss of economic value and a source of avoidable greenhouse gases. Significant effort is required by all sectors to eliminate plastic waste.

A groundbreaking new report is the most recent in a series of studies to shine a light on the urgent need for action. Breaking the Plastic Wave suggests we are at a crossroads. Take ambitious and concerted action now, mobilizing existing technologies and solutions, and solve the plastic problem in one generation, or wait five years and risk an additional 80 million metric tonnes of plastic going into the ocean by 2040.

Key Facts

  • Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste each year - only 9% is recycled with the majority ending up in landfills. 1
  • Plastic waste that isn’t recycled represents $7.8 billion in lost economic value.1
  • As little as 2% of plastics end up being recycled globally.1
  • Plastic waste is entering the ocean at a rate of about 11 million metric tonnes a year.2
  • 95% of the material value of plastic packaging is lost to the global economy after only a single use3
  1. Government of Canada (ECCC), Economic Study of the Canadian Plastic Industry, Markets and Waste: summary report to Environment and Climate Change Canada, (Deloitte for ECCC, 2019)
  2. Breaking the Plastic Wave, Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ, 2020.
  3. Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. November 23, 2018.

Zero Plastic Waste

Towards a Zero Plastic Waste Economy

A zero plastic waste future requires working collaboratively across all sectors to accelerate circular solutions at a systems level to the plastics challenges we face. 

Fortunately, businesses, government, and civil society leaders have been stepping up, alongside citizens, and are calling for fundamental change to keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment

As recently as October 7, 2020, the Government of Canada announced next steps in its plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.

Globally, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, through the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and Plastics Pact Network, has united over 1000 organizations behind a common vision for a circular economy for plastics, where plastic never becomes waste. The National Zero Waste Council is an Implementation Partner of the Canada Plastics Pact.

A New Business Model

Watch our video to see how a circular economy for plastics could keep materials flowing in the economy and out of the environment.



Circular Economy for Plastics – Circular Economy Leadership Coalition Circular Economy for Plastics – Circular Economy Leadership Coalition 326407334

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