Plastic pollution

Raincoast is committed to conducting solution-oriented scientific research that helps us all close the loop on the plastic economy. With plastics being a part of everybody’s world, we aim to engage with people at home, at work, at school; and in communities, governments and industry. 

Photo by April Benze.

Our approach

  • 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.

“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

Plastics are everywhere

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 of 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.

The impact on the environment

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 will continue – plastic bags, bottles and fishing gear, as well as the discharge of microplastics through domestic and industrial waste. With that will come a constant stream of items that will be mistaken for food but offer zero nutrition, that will entangle wildlife, and will deliver endocrine disruptors to our aquatic food webs.

Lots of garbage on a beach.
Photo by Simon Ager.