On March 9th Sven Spengemann, MP for Mississauga-Lakeshore, held an information session for citizens on the topic, “Plastics in Our Oceans and Lakes.” The turnout was much greater than expected for a Saturday morning, estimated to number about 300 people. Before the presentations began, people were offered coffee and tea while they visited various displays and talked with dedicated local environmental groups working towards the reduction of plastic pollution in our water ways and oceans.
The morning was started by a smudging ceremony to bring clear thinking and cooperation within the gathering. Sven welcomed everyone, introduced the speakers and spoke about the purpose of the morning. Presentations were then given from a variety of speakers’ viewpoints but the main message was the dire condition of our Great Lakes and oceans due to plastics. The audience heard the following troubling information from a number of speakers:
In Mississauga less than 12% of plastics are recycled.
In the Great Lakes 80% of the litter is from plastics, including microbeads from textiles.
There are no plastic return programs in Ontario.
Every year 8 million tonnes of plastics enter the oceans, half of them in just the past 13 years.
For example, garbage in the Don River is mostly single use plastic.
And 500 million plastic straws are used every day.
A presentation from the Canadian plastics industry included the following: there are 2600 plastic companies in Canada ; they employ 82,000 employees; it is a $24.3 billion industry. They support a goal of 100% of plastics being reused, recycled, and recovered. Reducing production was not mentioned.
Scientists at the University of Toronto are now using satellites to measure significant plastic contamination found in coastline waters around the world.
The morning ended with a message from Sven about the dangerous level of Great Lakes and ocean plastics pollution and the need for everyone to take part in reducing it with single use plastic being an early target for reduction in Ontario. The audience was then invited to ask questions of the speakers. The morning was very successful in terms of attendance and in new and renewed dedication in the participants to confront the all-important problems of plastics pollution.
– A Report from MIRANET member, Whiteoaks Lorne Park Community Association