Chélie Elsom stands in front of bags of recyclable plastic in Salmon Arm, plastics that, in B.C., will be remanufactured into new items. Elsom has created a petition she hopes will be presented in the House of Common, asking for a national strategy that will prohibit the use of single-use plastic. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Chélie Elsom stands in front of bags of recyclable plastic in Salmon Arm, plastics that, in B.C., will be remanufactured into new items. Elsom has created a petition she hopes will be presented in the House of Common, asking for a national strategy that will prohibit the use of single-use plastic. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

BC resident calls for national plan to tackle plastic

Shuswap petition calls for zero plastic waste in Canada by 2030

Shrink-wrapped vegetables in a local grocery store led one woman on a quest to get the Canadian government to institute a national plastics strategy to deal with plastic pollution.

Salmon Arm resident Chélie Elsom has created a petition that has been sponsored by Green Party leader Elizabeth May in order to be presented in the House of Commons.

About two years ago, Elsom noticed that many of the vegetables were encased in plastic. When she asked an employee why she couldn’t get a cucumber that wasn’t shrink wrapped, he told her, “That’s what Canadians want.”

“But I said I am Canadian and I don’t want that,” she says. “I thought, if I don’t want that, there must be other Canadians who don’t want it either.”

Related: Canada should aim to recycle 85% of plastics by 2025, groups say

Elsom’s subsequent research led to some apalling numbers.

“Canadians throw away 57 million plastic straws every single day and another shocking figure from the Canadian government website is that only 11 per cent of all plastics are recycled in Canada,” she says. “Here’s another shocking figure for you: every year Canadians use one billion single-use plastic grocery bags – and that’s just in Canada.”

Elsom believes that because most Canadians do not see the proof of plastic pollution every day; they throw things away without a thought as to where they go.”

“I’ve come to believe there is no such thing as throwing away. You don’t throw something away, it just becomes someone else’s problem,” she says. “But with the scope of plastic pollution now, it’s very quickly becoming everybody’s problem.”

Related: City debuts new recycling containers

Manufacturing of single-use plastics is a significant waste of resources, dollars and energy, she says, and, globally, plastic pollution poses a serious and significant environmental threat.

Elsom says one of the reasons Canada is facing a mounting plastic problem is that China, once a destination for the country’s plastic waste, closed its doors to the transfer.

Calling plastic pollution a multifaceted problem, Elsom says solutions should include a plan for education and public awareness, as well as for the responsible production, consumption, collection, processing and re-using of all plastic packaging.

Ben Van Nostrand, Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s team leader of environmental health, says he supports Elsom’s efforts to take the issue to the federal level. He points out the regional district is partnering with Recycle BC to ensure that options for recycling plastics are available at all CSRD recycling depots.

“We were one of the early adopters of the plastic category that Recycle BC recently added,” Van Nostrand says, noting he is pleased most local grocers are now charging five cents for each single-use plastic bag, another disincentive to use the bags.

“We’re pushing that stuff through the Recycle BC system for sure, and one of the positive things about them is that one of the partners is a plastic recycler in B.C. that is making new products from that material,” he says. “It’s staying within B.C. so we weren’t so heavily reliant on foreign markets.”

Related: Expanded opportunities at recycling depots

While she bemoans plastic pollution, Elsom is a supporter of the durable plastic that can be made and re-made many times over instead of being treated like garbage.

Determined to make her voice heard, Elsom received the necessary agreement to sponsor a petition, which can be found at Petition 1834. It asks the following:

“We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to commit to a National Plastic Strategy which includes:

1. An education and public awareness campaign highlighting the scope and impact of global plastic pollution;

2. A ban on the manufacturing, distribution and use of all plastics that cannot be recycled;

3. A ban on all single-use plastics that are hard to recycle and most often end up in landfills or waterways;

4. A commitment to encourage a circular plastics economy by keeping recyclable plastics out of landfills and instead reusing them in a closed-loop system effectively saving billions in manufacturing costs while producing less waste;

5. A commitment to invest in the infrastructure, on a municipal, provincial and federal level, to collect, sort, process, recycle and re-use all plastic packaging;

6. A Zero Plastic Waste Canada by 2030, by ensuring all plastic packaging is 100% recyclable, re-usable or compostable.”

Elsom says there is a large global conversation going on at the moment and she decided she wanted to have a voice in that conversation.

“I am sure there are other Canadians who would like to have a voice as well,” she says, pointing out she would like people to sign her petition, but also be more conscious of what they are throwing away.

Petition 1834 which is available for signing until Jan. 10, must have a minimum of 500 signatures in order to be presented in the House of Commons.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href="mailto:editor@mapleridgenews.com"><strong>editor@mapleridgenews.com</strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: Shame on local businesses not enforcing mask wearing

Maybe a list should be published saying where not to do business because it’s unsafe

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href="mailto:editor@mapleridgenews.com"><strong>editor@mapleridgenews.com</strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: There’s good reason for councillor’s actions

Councillor Kiersten Duncan has given much to this community, and deserves some understanding

The City of Maple Ridge is developing a concept plan for the new park area at 241A St. and 112 Ave. (City of Maple Ridge mock-up screenshot/ mapleridge.ca)
City of Maple Ridge hears back from public on new park

The Maple Ridge Parks, Recreation & Culture department engaged with the community… Continue reading

Fraser the Sandhill Crane getting some care for his broken leg. (Special to The News)
‘Fraser’ Crane released back into the wild in Pitt Meadows after golf course injury

The ‘threatened’ bird was captured and operated on after his leg was fractured by an errant ball

Maple  Ridge's Jacquie Steele captured this picture of Golden Ears Bridge on Saturday from Bonson Landing in Pitt Meadows. "A calm serene morning," she said. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Calm morning washes over the Fraser

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Numuch Keitlah, left, and Jake Thomas, centre, participate in a Coastal Nations search and rescue exercise off the coast of Vancouver Island in this undated handout photo. The recently operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary has more than 50 members from five Indigenous territories who are trained in marine search and rescue. They are on call day and night to respond to emergencies along some of B.C.’s most rugged and remote coastal areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Jordan Wilson *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada’s first Indigenous-led coast guard auxiliary patrols B.C.’s rugged coast

Auxiliary is part of the feds’ $1.5 billion plan to improve marine safety and protect the environment

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Reverend Patrick John (PJ) O’Maoil Mheana, ordained as Father Luke, has been named the new rector for the Church of the Holy Trinity in White Rock. (Contributed photo)
From chaos to love, White Rock’s newest priest to spread message of hope

Rev. Patrick John O’Maoil Mheana to start work at Church of the Holy Trinity Nov. 30

Randy Bell. (File photo)
Former northern B.C. mayoral candidate arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Smithers

Most Read