Canadian Science Symposium on Plastics

Managing plastic waste is now a global priority as countries move toward a circular economy. It is estimated that waste from plastic packaging alone costs the economy USD 80-120 B/yr! We know that plastic waste also impacts tourism, ocean fisheries, and livelihoods. Imagine if Canadians consumed less plastic and managed plastic waste more efficiently.

Over the Fall 2018 Study Break, Dr. Kurek attended the Canadian Science Symposium on Plastics in Ottawa, ON hosted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). Discussed were science and policy needs in four themes: 1) monitoring plastics in the environment, 2) plastic impacts to wildlife, 3) product design, and 4) waste management of plastics.

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There was a panel discussion by experts from Carleton University, University of Toronto, National Research Council, and Polytechnique Montreal that summarized the state of research in each specific theme above.

It is estimated that waste from plastic packaging alone costs the economy USD 80-120 B/yr!

Attendees then worked in small groups of 6-8 individuals with a trained ECCC facilitator (great job Florence!) to identify and prioritize current science gaps. Dr. Kurek’s expertise aligned well with theme 1, given the ECAB Lab’s recent ECCC Atlantic Ecosystems Initiatives funding on "Emerging concerns of microplastic pollution in the Saint John River watershed.” Each group then proposed specific activities for ECCC to take action on in order to develop a domestic science agenda to support Canada's plastics approach. Everyone was encouraged to think bold and suggest out-of-the-box ideas.

The Symposium will likely foster collaborative opportunities in plastic science, inform policy options and direct science activities, and support Canada's domestic and international commitments. 

Joshua Kurek