Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Flickr/ Caribb
Environment

The Province of Quebec Is Forcing Companies to Recycle the Plastic They Produce

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Plastic pollution has become an environmental crisis. The United Nations urges countries to restrict plastic production and better recycle existing plastic to prevent further harm to wildlife. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

Companies in the province of Quebec will soon have to keep track of all the products they sell and ensure that they’re properly recycled, according to Global News.

The new measure will be rolled out between 2022 and 2025 to give companies time to develop processes for the “recovery, sorting, packaging and recycling of their products,” Global News reported. 

The law shifts the burden of recycling away from consumers and on to producers, and rightly identifies the source of the global plastic pollution crisis as companies, according to environmental advocates. 

“It is time to hold companies to account for what they put into the marketplace without consideration of their products’ end-of-life management,” Agnès Le Rouzic, oceans and plastics manager at Greenpeace Canada, told Global News. 

The new law will be supported by $30 million in new investments for new sorting centres and public awareness campaigns. 

Over the next few years, companies will have to provide the government with comprehensive plans for their new approach to product management. 

Companies that fail to comply will be fined. 

Related Stories April 9, 2019 5 Plastic Alternatives Doing More Harm Than Good — and What to Use Instead

The new measure is ultimately intended to get companies to invest in sustainable alternatives and phase out hard-to-recycle and environmentally hazardous materials. 

For decades, the onus of recycling has fallen on ordinary people who have been expected to sort their trash and leave it out for collection. This arrangement has always been flawed because the vast majority of plastic that’s sorted isn’t even recyclable by most municipalities.

As a result, most plastic waste ends up landfills, sold to other countries, or contaminating the environment.

The world’s oceans, in particular, have become dumping grounds for plastic waste that causes immense harm to marine life. Marine animals as big as whales and as small as amphipods are harmed and sometimes killed by this plastic. 

Related Stories Oct. 1, 2019 What You Need to Know About the Global Epidemic of Ocean Plastic Pollution

Governments around the world are beginning to crack down on plastic waste by restricting and banning various types of plastic. Canada is banning single-use plastics as early as 2021, and the European Union announced a ban on most single-use plastics last year.  

Many companies, often pressured by consumers, are voluntarily investing in plastic alternatives. For example, Trader Joe’s, Heineken, and Delta Air Lines have all begun to phase out plastic.  

Major consumer goods brands like Unilever and Procter & Gamble are getting a head start on the Quebec model by investing in a system called Loop that features reusable containers that the companies retrieve and reuse.