THE FUTURE OWNS
Ocean Legacy BC cleanup group taps the Ministry of Environment on the shoulder
Three Ocean Legacy crew stand over some of the plastic debris collected on just one Vancouver Island beach.
KARI KYLO SOMAWORKS—HANDOUT PHOTOS
ollowing on the heels of Earth Day and the
Government of British Columbia’s appointment of Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo MLA
and special advisor on marine debris protection to the Minister of Environment
and Climate Change George Heyman, the Ocean Legacy Foundation (OLF), a British
Columbia-based internationally-recognized leader in managing ocean plastics, is
calling on the Government of British Columbia to reclaim its position as a
global leader in managing beverage containers and their caps.
OLF’s latest report, “British Columbia’s Beverage Container Legacy: The Missing Millions”, states that every day more than one million beverage containers and 2.3 million beverage container caps go missing in BC, and millions in economic opportunity with them. See more here.
The Government of British Columbia was the first jurisdiction in the world to adopt a regulated beverage container refund system; this system is now 50 years old. The Ocean Legacy Foundation is recommending to the Government of British Columbia five policy changes to increase beverage container recycling in BC, and regain BC’s status as a global environmental leader.
“The world has its eye on ocean plastics, and BC is no different,” explains Chloé Dubois, Executive Director and co-founder of OLF. “With more than eight million tonnes of plastic entering our oceans and waterways each year, and more than 40 per cent of this from single-use, disposable plastics like beverage containers, it’s time for focused and resolute action.”
In its report, OLF outlines the current ocean plastics crisis, the role of beverage containers and their caps in contributing to ocean litter, and BC’s declining beverage container recycling rates, especially as they relate to small plastic bottles. It applauds British Columbia for being an early leader in beverage container management, including being the first jurisdiction in the world to adopt a best practice known as a regulated beverage container deposit refund system. It also calls on the BC government to update its regulated system with five key, evidence-informed recommendations:
• Increase the regulated deposit rate
• Add all beverage containers to the deposit refund system
• Require producers to collect and report recycling of bottle caps
• Raise regulated targets to at least that achieved by Alberta and Saskatchewan, with long-term targets matching the European Union
• Enforce the regulated targets in a meaningful way, such as requiring producers to pay for the clean-up of ocean plastics equal to the amount by weight that they fail to collect and recycle
“OLF is thrilled that the BC government announced
plans to develop recommendations to curb the disposal of plastics in the marine
environment,” explains Dubois. “We would love to be part of this work, and hope
that George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Sheila
Malcolmson, minister’s special advisor on marine debris protection, will start
with informed regulatory updates to a system that is shown to get results when
it works at its best.”
Plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every single year. Plastics have been found in the stomachs of birds, fish and whales; in drinking water, beer, seafood, and table salt; and in the human body. The OLF report states that without intervention, global ocean plastics are expected to double by 2035, and if practices remain unchanged there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean (by weight) by 2050.
See a 4 minute clip of what they find here.
Increasing the effectiveness of BC’s beverage container recycling system will result in fewer containers becoming ocean litter, while reducing greenhouse gases through recycling, avoiding taxpayer waste management costs, and creating green jobs.
Fore more information read the Ocean Legacy report here.
Ocean Legacy Foundation is a British Columbia-based, internationally recognized, non-profit organization founded in 2014 to end ocean plastic waste. We work to identify, clean up, and prevent plastic waste from entering tributary and marine ecosystems by developing education, infrastructure, and policy. Since 2014, we have collected over 157,000 lbs of plastic waste from five different countries, including focused operations in the Pacific Northwest, which have formed and enabled plastic waste removal collaborations worldwide. Together, we believe we can leave an ocean legacy that can sustain the health of our waterways for present and future generations. For more information, visit oceanlegacy.ca