Five-year plan aims to have 50 per cent of all plastics recycled by 2027

Two drake Mallard ducks fly over Lake Erie near the Cleveland shoreline on April 1, 2014, in Cleveland.(Mark Duncan / AP Photo)

A growing amount of plastic litter is bleeding into the Great Lakes, impacting wildlife and drinking water for about 40 million Canadians and Americans, according to a report released by the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR).

That is why the group has launched an ambitious new five-year plan aimed at removing plastic from the Great Lakes.

Circular Great Lakes, a CGLR initiative aimed at developing a circular economy for plastics in the region, estimates that $1.2 billion worth of valuable and reusable plastics are thrown out each year.

“Plastic is a versatile material that is used widely in our industries and homes as consumers, but it should never become waste in our economy or litter in our environment,” Mark Fisher, president and CEO of CGLR, said in a news release. “Through the Circular Great Lakes initiative, we are convening business, government, academic, and NGO leaders to drive and deliver the systems change needed to close the loop and accelerate the transition to a circular economy for plastics in this critical region to the United States and Canada.”

According to the report, in Canada and the United States, only about 18 per cent of plastics are recycled.

The group says cleaning-up plastic pollution costs more than $500 million each year. So they’ve launched a five-year plan to have all plastics recycled by 2027.

The Circular Great Lakes strategy and action plan centres around the following:

  • Clean up and end plastic waste and litter from entering the Great Lakes watershed, earth’s largest freshwater system.
  • Accelerate development of plastic packaging recycling supply chains and markets, with a focus on flexible plastics.
  • Achieve a step change in plastics recycling quantity and quality through policy, consumer behavior, and investments in infrastructure and advanced technologies.