Canadians produce more garbage per capita than any other country on earth. Though it may be hard to prove that they directly dump their garbage in the ocean, the fact that they accumulate such an enormous amount of waste is enough to pin them down to the wheel, too.
As one of the wealthiest nations with a relatively small population, this is a huge problem made worse by the fact that we only recycle about 9 percent of our plastics waste. This is harming our oceans, the animals that call them home, and even our health. We need to be doing more to stop the oceans from drowning in plastic.
The worldwide problem of plastic pollution
There is no denying that our oceans are facing a plastic crisis. A huge amount of plastic debris has been found floating on the sea surface, washing up on the world’s most remote coastline. This debris is melting out of the Arctic sea ice, sitting at the deepest point of the ocean floor, and sometimes even ends up in the stomachs of fishes and other marine animals.
Plastic is indeed everywhere. To make matters worse, the volume of plastic waste is expected to increase four times by 2050.
The worst thing about Canada’s waste management programs is that some people still think that plastic pollution, especially in our oceans, is not a Canadian problem. As if the amount of trash they contribute to pollution, here they are pushing the issue to the side like they wouldn’t be affected.
We recycle, we have good waste management systems, do beach cleanups and generally, we care about the environment. Isn’t that how the whole world should deal with plastic pollution?
Facts about Canada’s garbage problem
- Canada produces an estimated 3.3 million tons of plastic waste annually.
- 2.8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in Canadian landfills every year. That is equivalent to the weight of 24 CN towers.
- According to the Canadian government, their people use almost 15 billion plastic bags every year and approximately 57 million straws every day.
- In Canada, more than one-third of our plastics are created for single-use products or packaging.
Does Canada recycle their trash?
Out of their enormous plastic waste, Canada recycles a measly 9 percent. Meanwhile, about 87 percent ends up in their sanitation landfills.
The rest is burned to create energy causing emission problems along the way. These plastics also inevitably enter the environment as litter.
Canada also ships out around 12 percent of its plastic waste outside of North America to be processed for recycling. Far too often, this results in environmental pollution affecting the whole world instead of being properly recycled.
Canada doesn’t produce as much plastic waste as other countries.
Despite producing the biggest amount of waste than any other country, Canada’s plastic waste is not as much as the US and other neighboring territories. However, many countries in Asia have become the world’s dumping ground for Canada’s plastic waste.
They send out 12 percent of their plastic waste to North America to be recycled. A high percentage of this exported plastic waste is then sent to countries in Southeast Asia, many of which do not have the proper infrastructure to deal with this waste. Expectedly, this results in the plastic being incinerated or simply polluting the environment as permanent litter.
North America and European countries specifically have been sending waste there for decades, but many countries, like China are now refusing it. This only shows how Canada contributes to the plastic problem halfway across the world.
Big countries like Canada throw their rubbish to smaller nations like the Philippines.
A cargo ship carrying tons of rubbish from Canada arrived in the Philippines more than five years ago, causing a diplomatic row. This action continued on even as nations in the region increasingly reject serving as a dumpsite for bigger countries.
69 shipping containers of rotting waste were loaded onto M/V Bavaria at Subic Bay port in the early hours of Friday, before embarking on a 20-day journey to Vancouver, in southwestern Canada.
Environmental activists, including those from Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition, welcomed Bavaria’s arrival at Subic Bay. From there, the Philippines stood their ground that they are not a garbage dumpsite.
It is not a surprise that a big chunk of plastic trash floating in the ocean is from Asia. In fact, the top six countries for ocean garbage are China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, which are all Asian nations.
The United States also contributes as much as 242 million pounds of plastic trash in the ocean every year.
Common questions about Canada dumping garbage in the ocean
What is the effect of plastic pollution in the ocean?
Ocean microplastics have lasting effects on the ocean. Marine animals in general mistake the plastic trash for food and consume them. This affects their digestive tracts as plastics start filling their stomachs, leaving no room for real food. Plastic pollution also allows toxic chemicals to contaminate ocean water.
What other countries dump garbage in the ocean?
First discovered in the early ’90s, the garbage patch’s trash comes from countries around the Pacific Rim. These include nations in Asia and North and South America. Studies show that the big bulk of the garbage patch trash is from China and other Asian countries.
Does Canada burn garbage?
A majority of Canadian communities have started implementing laws that ban the open burning of garbage. Due to its known effects on human health, open burning has been widely prohibited not just in Canada, but in other countries as well.
With its dense population, it is not surprising that Canada greatly contributes to the world’s garbage problem. If only they could start rethinking plastic use, we could all foresee a brighter world without climate change.
This also shows that even if their country does not produce as many plastic wastes as Southeast Asian nations, the fact that they have too much garbage to manage becomes another problem that affects not just their people, but the whole world.