New report finds Canada is a disproportionately large contributor to the growing global plastic disaster. Get the report.

Drowning in Plastic Ending Canada’s contribution to the global plastic disaster

The oceans face a massive and growing threat from something we encounter every day: plastics. It is everywhere and in everything – the air we breathe, the food marine life and all of us eat and the deepest part of the ocean. 

An estimated 22 million kilograms of plastic leaks into our oceans every day – roughly equivalent to dumping a garbage truck’s worth of plastic into our oceans every minute. Recycling won’t end this disaster: a meager nine per cent of all the plastic ever produced has been recycled. Plastic is flooding our oceans and devastating marine life. 

Plastics are Everywhere

Tens of thousands of individual marine organisms have been observed suffering from entanglement or ingestion of plastics – from zooplankton, corals and fish, to sea turtles, seals, whales and seabirds.  Plastics never go away. Instead they break down into smaller and smaller pieces, which act as magnets for harmful pollutants and chemicals. When eaten by fish, some of these contaminated microplastics work their way up the food chain and into our food supply. It is estimated that humans consume approximately one credit card worth of plastic each week.

The problem is only growing. Global production of plastic is increasing. It has nearly doubled since the start of the millennium and it’s expected to increase at least fourfold by 2050. To solve this crisis, we must significantly reduce the use of single-use and disposable plastics at its source.

Plastics in Canada

Although Canadians make up less than 0.5 per cent of the global population, we use 1.4 per cent of all plastics produced.  In 2010, Canada produced nine times more plastic waste per person than India, up to 3.6 times more than some countries in Southeast Asia and up to twice that of some Scandinavian countries. 

And our consumption keeps growing. Canada currently uses 4.6 million tonnes of plastics every year — roughly 125 kilograms per person.  Experts predict that by 2030, that number will grow to more than six million tonnes per year.  

For decades, wealthier nations like Canada have been sending plastic waste to less wealthy nations, countries that often do not have robust waste management systems. From 1988 to 2016, Canada shipped almost four million tonnes of plastics abroad, mostly to Asia.  That’s like shipping 800 blue whales every year for 29 years.

Canada is part of the problem, so we must be part of the solution. Canadians want plastic-free choices. Eighty-six per cent of Canadians say they support a single-use plastic ban.

Canada has committed to help solve this plastic crisis. Oceana Canada is calling on our government to live up to its promise to ban unnecessary single-use plastics by 2021. 

End the Plastic Disaster 

Tell the government to #EndthePlasticDisaster and stop the flow of plastics that are filling our oceans and harming marine life. Sign our petition calling on the Canadian government fulfill their commitment to ban harmful and unnecessary single-use plastics by 2021.

Oceana is working around the world to stop plastic pollution. Find out how at