Big Topic

Canada is drowning in plastic waste — and recycling won’t save us

Canadians throw away about 3.3 million tonnes of plastic each year. Only nine percent is recycled.


For the first 50 years after plastic was invented, the idea of only using the long-lasting material once was blasphemous, an affront to values of frugality honed over years of war and economic strife.

Then, in the late 1950s, the plastics industry launched a massive marketing campaign — and single-use plastic was born.

“The happy day has arrived when nobody any longer considers plastic packages too good to throw away,” Lloyd Stouffer said at the 1963 U.S. National Plastic Conference. Stouffer was a U.S. plastics marketing guru and the man who, in 1956, first pitched the idea that a virtually indestructible material — plastic — should be sold as disposable.

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