Plastic pollution threatens salmon, whales and people

A look into Raincoast’s new work to address plastic pollution.

Plastics from just about every sector can now be found all over the world – from mountain tops to the seafloor, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and from our homes to the ocean. A modern-day scourge that is blighting remote beaches and shorelines, getting mistaken for food by wildlife, and getting into the foods that nourish us. 

Whether it’s the structural features of plastic products that suffocate, entangle or create intestinal blockages – or the endocrine disrupting-contaminants that serve as ingredients in the product (e.g. Bisphenol A or phthalate esters) or as hitchhikers soaked up by plastics in the environment (e.g. PCBs or metals) – plastics are harmful.

Without a dramatic re-think, the plastic crisis is here to stay. Despite the best intentions of governments, industry and consumers to reduce, recycle or re-use, global plastic production continues to enjoy exponential growth. And the unintentional loss to the environment of plastic products and byproducts continues – plastic bags, bottles and fishing gear, as well as the discharge of tiny microplastics (defined as anything smaller than 5 mm) through domestic and industrial waste. With that steady release comes a constant stream of items that will be mistaken for food but offer zero nutrition, entangle wildlife, and deliver endocrine disruptors to food webs and to our plate.

“Not a day goes by when I don’t get more bad news about plastic in the environment. You know what? That gives me hope.”

Dr. Peter Ross

We at Raincoast are committed to conducting solution-oriented scientific research. With our new Healthy Waters initiative, we will document priority pollutants – including plastics and microplastics – in freshwater and coastal waters. However, the Plastic Pollution File is unique as it touches on things that are unique in the realm of pollution science.  With plastics being a part of everybody’s world, we aim to engage with people at home, at work, at school; in communities, governments and industry. The Plastic Pollution File deserves our attention. That’s why a distinct plastic pollution effort is needed within the wider Healthy Waters program.

The Raincoast Plastic Pollution File will:

  • Design a source identification toolbox for plastic pollution; 
  • Work with Indigenous and coastal communities to document plastic pollution and track this back to its source;
  • Conduct research on the source, transport and fate of micro and macroplastics in the environment;
  • Engage in outside-the-box dialogue with industry and governments to support more sustainable design, manufacturing and processes that stem the release of plastics during the life cycle of a product;
  • Support community-oriented outreach and training to support solution-oriented actions and capacity building.

For more information on opportunities, please contact Peter at .

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Chelsea Greer hanging a wildlife camera.