The Ottawa Water Study/Action Group has just received an official letter from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada (link to PDF) describing their plans to implement a ban on single-use plastics, but disappointingly dismissing our concerns over plastic water bottles. OWSAG is asking all concerned environmentalists to respond to this letter.
Find below the response by Water Engineer, and OWSAG member, Dr. Eric Schiller, as well as the email address of officials whom you may wish to contact yourself. Feel free to copy us on your messages, using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
To: Iwan Chan
Director General, Corporate Secretariat, ECCC
I have just read the official letter that you sent (attached) on the banning of single-use plastics. The letter states, “Plastic water bottles have not been identified for a potential ban or restriction at this time. This is mainly due to their recyclability and high recycling rates”. This is not true as you surely must know. All credible studies have shown that recycling of plastic bottles is in the range of 10%. (Recycling Council of Ontario, Oceana Canada, Environmental Defence, and many others). As the director general of the Corporate Secretariat, you must surely know this! The reason for this is that it is cheaper to continue to extract virgin fossil material from the ground than to do the more expensive procedure of recycling.
Your letter also states that the ECCC “will work closely with industry during the regulatory process”. There is no mention of working with municipalities who supply excellent quality, highly regulated safe drinking water to most Canadians. Nor is there any mention of the vast number of environmental agencies who dispute your claims.
The fact is that there is a safe, reliable alternative to plastic water bottles. It is high quality municipal tap water. This is not even mentioned in your information letter. Why not? You are ignoring this obvious alternative for plastic water bottles.
In ECCC’s list of criteria for selecting banned single-use plastics, it is stated that a product should not be banned if “no viable alternative exists that can serve the same function”. Obviously, this does not apply to plastic water bottles, which can be replaced by safe, high quality municipal drinking water.
Again, as stated by ECCC criteria, a ban can be initiated when “a clear alternative to the banned plastic exists”. This is the case for plastic water bottles.
It is clear that you have caved in to the demands of the bottled water industry (as represented by CBWA and CBA). You have sacrificed your own environmental protection goals. Please live up to your mandate and take an obvious first step. Ban plastic water bottles, except in the few cases where a supply of safe municipal drinking water is not available.
No more empty promises please. The environmental situation is desperate and concrete actions are required now!
Dr. Eric J. Schiller
The plastic bottle industry has enormous influence over the government. With a massive push we can counteract the lobbying of the Canadian Bottled Water Association (CBWA) and the Canadian Beverage Association (CBA). Please contact the government on this as soon as possible.
Minister of Environment Canada and Climate Change (ECCC): email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister Jonathan Willkinson – Jonathan.Willkinson@parl.gc.ca and Cynthia Bunbury, his assistant Jonathan.Wilkinson.C1@parl.gc.ca
Catherine McKenna (Previous Environment Minister): Catherine.Mckenna@parl.gc.ca