Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Courtenay—Alberni for his continued interest in combatting plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans.
Our government shares the hon. member's concerns about the negative impacts of plastic waste and marine litter on the environment, and the Liberals will be supporting the motion.
As we all know, plastics play an important role in society due to their low cost, unrivalled functionality and durability. However, the negative impacts of plastic waste and pollution in our environment are undeniable. Plastics do not belong in our waters or scattered around our land.
We subscribe to the view that plastics that leave the economy as waste represent a loss of resources and value. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that between $80 billion and $120 billion worth of plastic packaging alone is lost from the global economy every year.
Plastic production continues to grow, with about a 620% increase in growth since 1975, outpacing most manufactured materials. If current consumption, production and disposal rates continue, about 12 billion tonnes of plastic will be lost to landfills or the environment by 2050. In Canada, in 2014, approximately 90% of plastic waste was lost with only about 11% recycled. It is estimated that about 8,000 kilograms of our own plastic waste ends up as marine litter every year.
With a growing economy and population, nationally and globally, we need to think differently about how we design, produce, recover and use plastics. A high point of our G7 presidency was the release of the Ocean Plastics Charter in June 2018. The charter has since been endorsed by 11 governments and 19 businesses and organizations worldwide, all committing to move toward a more resource-efficient and sustainable approach to plastics that will reduce plastic waste and marine litter.
The charter includes ambitious targets and actions along the entire life cycle of plastics, from sustainable design, production and collection to management, as well as actions to advance education, research, innovation, new technologies and on-the-ground improvements.
Actions to meet the charter targets need to happen on two fronts: internationally and domestically. Internationally, we continue to advance policy discussions and research in international fora so that our efforts are amplified along with others. For instance, we joined the United Nations Clean Seas campaign and pledged, with numerous others, to take action on marine litter. We participate in the United Nations Global Partnership on Marine Litter. We also contributed to the recently adopted guidance on fishing gear from of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Canada also recently joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative to tackle lost fishing gear, and we are working on scientific methods to detect plastics in dredged materials from ocean disposal sites.
We need to innovate and embrace solutions across the entire plastics value chain and change our entire system to one with no waste. I am very pleased to note that Canada will be hosting the World Circular Economy Forum in 2020. This will offer a great opportunity to showcase Canadian progress on plastics while fostering dialogue on moving Canada and the world toward a circular economy for all materials, including plastics. To achieve this, we are working together with a broad range of stakeholders: industry, academia and civil society.
Through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, we are working with provinces and territories to implement the newly launched CCME strategy on zero plastic waste. The next step is to develop a Canada-wide action plan to eliminate plastic waste, reduce marine litter and use a circular economy lens to address plastics throughout the value chain. The action plan will provide a platform for collaboration among different levels of government, industry and other stakeholders.
Industry and Canadians have signalled they are ready to make the necessary changes. This means making plastic design and production more sustainable; improving collection, management systems and infrastructure; adopting a more sustainable lifestyle and creating awareness of environmentally sound alternatives and good practices; continuing to improve on our understanding of the issue and solutions through research and innovation; and finally, taking action to capture and remove the plastic litter that is already covering shorelines and our near-shore waters.
To propel the full range of Canadian industry to action, we recently launched the Canadian plastics innovation challenge. The challenge will accelerate innovation in our country by providing over $12 million to Canadian innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses to tackle plastic challenges in seven key areas: separation of mixed plastics; food packaging; plastic wastes from construction activities; removal and management of ghost fishing gear and marine debris; improved compost ability of bioplastics; recycling of glass fibre-reinforced plastic; and sustainable fishing and aquaculture gear.
The federal government is also leading by example. We have committed to divert at least 75% of the plastic waste from government operations by 2030. This will be accomplished through changing our own practices as well as in the procurement of more sustainable plastic products such as those that are reusable, recyclable, repairable or are made with recycled plastic content.
This adds to other federal efforts, including pollution prevention legislation, such as our phased ban on microbeads in toiletries that came into effect this year; investments in waste and waste-water infrastructure to prevent debris from entering the environment; and raising awareness through public engagement and education.
With respect to increasing awareness and community action among Canadians, in September we collaborated with five NGOs and launched an ocean plastics education kit for students and teachers to increase awareness of marine plastic litter and empower youth to develop solutions and take action.
On Earth Day, we launched the Canadian dialogue on plastic waste. We heard from more than 1,900 Canadians about their views on ways to reduce plastic waste and pollution. We posted a summary of what we heard on our website. Participants across the country recognized the need to take prompt action on this issue and that no one solution would do the trick.
We have supported community projects as well as national conservation initiatives. The Government of Canada is a partner with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup that removes plastic litter and collects citizen science data.
We are working with the United States and Mexico, through the Commission of Environmental Cooperation, to implement a pilot project in the Salish Sea watershed in British Columbia. The project will engage local decision-makers and the community to identify local plastic waste and litter challenges and implement small scale solutions.
We also continue to advance science to support action on plastics. We also conduct and support research on the plastics economy in Canada and the impacts of plastic pollution in aquatic environments and fauna.
This month, we hosted two scientific workshops with international and national experts to help inform our plastics science agenda. We discussed the state of current science on the effects of plastics in the environment, identified knowledge gaps and prioritized areas where we could take concerted action to strengthen our science. Strong science is the foundation of effective decision-making.
We look forward to continuing action in these areas and working with partners in Canada and abroad to move to a circular plastics economy, one without plastic waste.
We recognize that achieving a zero plastic waste future that is protective of the environment is multi-faceted. There is no one solution.
To address the issue of plastic waste and its pollution, actions are required at each stage of the plastic life cycle. All levels of government, from municipalities to national governments, as well as industry, civil society and citizens have a role to play.
The Government of Canada will continue to support action by these players and through its own efforts in sound science, research and development, funding, regulation and other policy levers to keep plastic waste in the economy and out of the environment.
This is why today we will support the motion put forward by the member for Courtenay—Alberni.