The latest round of negotiations for an international treaty on plastic pollution (INC-4) have officially concluded in Ottawa. We saw experts and frontline communities using creative and heart-felt means to push for ambition, while industry lobbyists turned out in droves to weaken it.

Negotiators worked through areas of disagreement, but the biggest issues remain to be decided at November’s final treaty round. Will the world agree to limit plastic production and protect health and justice – or will industry lobbyists get their way?

For decades, plastics companies have been greenwashing their way out of meaningful action while they profit from the ever-expanding production of plastics. Despite marketing plastics as recyclable, the reality is more than 90 per cent of plastic ends up in landfills and incinerators, parks and public spaces, waterways and oceans, and even the human body.

The March 2022 UN Environmental Assembly voted to adopt a global, legally binding treaty on plastics to address the toxic risks of plastic pollution.

Decades of scientific research have shown the toxic impact of plastic chemicals throughout its life cycle. A new study has identified over 16,000 chemicals being used in plastics, and one in four of these has been linked to exposure-related diseases such as cancers, endocrine disruption and reproductive harms.

The breakdown of plastics also produces microscopic pieces — microplastics — that have been found in the placenta, lungs, liver, breast milk, urine and blood. Research has linked these microplastics to inflammation, neurological disorders and even cardiovascular disease.

The adverse health consequences of plastic pollution are already costing governments billions in health care.

Though the Canadian government has begun working domestically to address plastic pollution, we need it to lead by example on this international push and help define ambition for the coalition of nations that want to see toxic additives removed from plastics.

This coalition will need to respect human rights, limit plastic production, eliminate unnecessary plastic products, prioritize the prohibition of hazardous chemicals and ensure businesses respect the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. They will also need to push back against the plastic industry's efforts to undermine a strong treaty and its claims that voluntary tools are somehow more effective than legally binding ones.

With 460 million tonnes of plastic generated each year, we need a global solution to combat to combat plastic pollution, write Lyndia Dernis @CAPE_ACME, Cassie Barker @cassie_barker @envirodefence and George Kitching #PlasticsTreaty #INC4 #cdnpoli

With 460 million tonnes of new plastic generated each year and production rising, it’s clear we need a global solution to combat plastic pollution that starts with limits on production.

As two physicians with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and a program manager at Environmental Defence, we are but three of the millions of voices pushing for regulatory action on plastics. Agreeing to a global treaty is essential due to the international nature of the manufacturing, distribution and contamination of plastics.

Canada can lead the way to an ambitious, legally binding tool that not only tackles plastic production and pollution but also restricts toxic chemicals in plastics. '

We call for an equitable treaty that centres human health and environmental justice, including Indigenous knowledge and consent.

We also hope that Canada will seize this unique opportunity to address the overwhelming adverse effects of toxic plastics on human health and society.

We need Canada to make good on its commitments to domestic action on plastics — actions that will protect the health of both its citizens and the environment.

Dr. Lyndia Dernis is a physician with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
Cassie Barker is a program manager at Environmental Defence.
Dr. George Kitching is a family physician working as a locum in several Kingston area family medicine clinics and holds the position of faculty associate at Queen’s University.

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The solution is obvious. STOP PRODUCING THE TOXIC EVERLASTING BY PRODUCT OF OIL AND GAS EXTRACTION. But it won't happen, and not because we the consumers couldn't easily learn to live without it.

It won't happen because fossil fuel by products are growth industries. They create jobs. You know, those paid employment gigs that are killing the future, but feeding our children processed frankenfood now.

Capitalism is the growth industry behind it....and we do need to face facts. If something makes money for the few, the outsourced 'costs' of that process will be rendered invisible.

Until, like plastic pollution everywhere.........they aren't.
Shut down those plastic factories; leave those unconventional fossil fuels in the ground. Doing less, making do with less, won't be as difficult as we imagine. Life was good before plastic...plastic doesn't define anything worth having.
Shut those poisonous factories down. For the love of Earth.