Rethinking garbage: Single-use plastics


Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

In 2020, the Québec Government is prohibiting all compostable material

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

In 2020, the Québec Government is prohibiting all compostable material
from landfills. Currently, all municipalities are examining composting solutions – and this will be a topic for future columns. This 2020 directive will reduce the amount of organics dumped into Québec’s landfills, but how can we reduce our other garbage?
Single-use plastics
Gaining traction is the realization that single-use plastics must be banned. The term refers to items which are used once, then landfilled (or possibly recycled, depending on the plastic used). Positive news? Various jurisdictions worldwide have banned plastic bags to first educate consumers about single-use products, but also to minimize or outlaw their use. In Norway 97% of plastic bottles are
recycled; why not Canada? Most consumers recognize we should avoid single-use plastics, but how?
Consumer solutions
Enter a raft of entrepreneurs who are producing reusable items for our home convenience. Media of all kinds are full of information regarding reusable beeswax-coated papers to replace plastic film. Also promoted are reusable bins and bags plus fine gauze, cellulose, or other biodegradable replacements for plastic bags.
Business & manufacturing: Packaging for anti-tampering
Although individual consumers can adapt to reusables or choose to buy produce not wrapped in plastic, in many instances, purchasing almost anything these days means bringing unwanted, single-use packaging into our homes. I think many of us are ready to cease supporting plastic packaging. How can manufacturers be encouraged to lead the wave of sustainability?
It’s happening…
Manufacturers’ responsibility:
From cradle-to-grave (C2G) sustainability
A descriptive term, “cradle” is where we start life and “grave” is where we end it; therefore this term means manufacturers become responsible not only for creating something, but also taking it back from consumers and
disposing of it too. Hence, manufacturers are responsible for the entire life cycle of
their product. This is also called a “closed-loop system”. Remember that word: “loop”. This is already in practice, but in far too few instances. The Guardian newspaper cites Rungis, “Paris’s largest wholesale market, avoids sending waste to landfill and uses it to fuel its operations and part of the energy needs
of Orly airport.”
 Increasing innovation: TerraCyle
TerraCycle (“Terra” means “Earth” and “cyle” is short for “recycle”) is a company whose slogan is “Eliminating the Idea of Waste® by recycling the non-recyclable.” Their website claims they’ll “collect and recycle almost any form of waste”. It offers an intriguing solution to the waste stream, and is used in more than 20 countries
Loop packaging
CBC radio recently discussed this concept, where an unidentified company will soon produce consumer items in “reusable packaging made by some of the world’s leading brands, including Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Nestlé.” According to CBC the company, which is launching this venture in Canada, will be identified this spring.
Innovation urgently required
Population forecasts predict Earth will be home to 9.7 billion people by 2050, 11
billion by 2100. We’re late in the game at figuring out “cradle-to-grave” systems and sustainability, so we all need to sort out our waste problems, now.

Katharine Fletcher is a
freelance writer, author, and visual artist. Contact her at  "mailto:fletcher.katharine@" and view her art