Let's Stop Littering

There has been grave concern expressed about ocean litter and the amount of plastic waste ending up in our waterways and lakes.

It is a serious problem, one the industry takes very seriously, and there are solutions.

Ocean Litter

A number of scientific studies have concluded that plastic litter in the ocean is the result of poor or insufficient waste management and lack of sufficient collection, recycling and recovery facilities infrastructure in rapidly developing countries. [1]

Twenty countries account for 83 percent of the mismanaged plastic waste available to enter the ocean.

Over half of land-based plastic waste leaks from just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. [2]

The plastics industry is part of an international effort, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which has committed $1.5 Billion over the next 5 years on practical projects around the world to collect and manage waste and increase recycling especially in developing countries. (Over 350 projects in 40 countries.) [3]

[1] J.R. Jambeck, R. Geyer, C. Wilcox, T.R. Siegler, A. Andraday, R. Narayan, K.L. Law, “Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean”,
Science 2015, Volume 347, Number 6223 Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean | Science
[2] Ibid.

River and Great Lakes Litter

Closer to home, the plastic pollution problem is very solvable but we all have to do our part.

What are the sources of plastic litter? There are a number of litter sources that need to be addressed – windblown litter from landfills and curbside recycling collection systems and people littering on beaches and on the street. Street litter ends up in the stormwater system which flows into the rivers, lakes, streams, ponds and Great Lakes. Litter on our sandy beaches is carried by waves and wind out into the lake.

What Can We Do About It?

Better landfill management protocols, and covered recycling collection bins are a positive step that will limit windblown litter from these sources.

Governments across Atlantic Canada should be taking action too by trying to curb littering. The problem is not the litter but the people who litter. The introduction of anti-littering bylaws and public awareness campaigns in communities is also an important step that can be taken to prevent litter in the first place.

Up until recently, littering was not seen as a policy priority. In fact, very few cities in Canada have anti-littering laws or public awareness campaigns. Most have only anti-dumping laws. Littering is an anti-social behaviour that undermines product stewardship and the concept of our collective responsibility to manage the products we use even at their end of life.

Perhaps the time has come for each of us to consider changing our behaviour in our daily lives. It is the easiest thing we can do to protect the environment. And it works. This means that we must be more conscious of using sidewalk litter bins, picking up stray litter when we see it, and recycling wherever and whenever we can. We could also encourage our municipalities to put in anti-littering laws which currently do not exist in most communities.

Change begins with us.

Not a Litter Problem