Review of federal policy to mitigate the impact of microplastics: A comparative study of European Commission’s Plastic Directive Vs Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste by CCME

Last modified: 
February 18, 2020 - 10:05am
Type: Thesis
Year of publication: 2019
Authors: Shivani Chhabra
Institution: York University
City: Toronto
Academic department: Environmental Studies
Degree: Master in Environmental Studies

Water is a renewable resource and is a quintessential need for organisms to survive on earth but only when used sustainably. Water plays an indispensable part in achieving the goals of sustainable development that includes health and social needs and economic growth. Maintaining the quality of water is an essential step towards achieving the goals set for sustainable development. However, some anthropogenic activities are responsible for adding impurities to water through improper industrial and domestic waste disposal. This could be the solid waste or toxins released from these solid wastes. Plastic is a form of solid waste that has become the contributor to the deteriorating quality of water around the world. It has been estimated that nearly 8 million tonnes of plastic end up into the oceans each year (Boucher et al. 2017). It takes approximately 1000 years for a plastic material to decompose completely from its disposal site (The Green Space, 2010). The growing use and inappropriate disposal of plastic products in our everyday life continue to reduce water quality. Marine animals and dead birds containing tiny plastic pieces discovered in their guts are nowadays a common site.

More than the plastics scientists and environmentalist around the world are becoming concerned about microplastics. Tons of plastic waste end up into the oceans from dumping sites intentionally or unintentionally, and this plastic waste further breaks down into smaller pieces named microplastics with the help of sun, chemicals, and other microbial activities. If we continue to suffocate our waters like this, the use of plastic cannot be considered sustainable anymore.

Although Canada has already taken up the first steps towards banning microbeads in July 2018, there is still a lot that needs to be done in microplastics. Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 could be one of the solutions, where the primary purpose of CEPA is to contribute towards sustainable development and achieving the protection of the environment from toxic substances explicitly mentioned in one of its guiding principles. This paper has attempted to highlight the progress made by the EU to manage their (micro)plastic waste with enhanced recycling methodology along with innovative designs for plastic production. The Canadian government should take an example of such models to strengthen further its efforts towards mitigating the impacts of microplastic pollution and regulating them.

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