On April 20, 2018, the Government of Québec Office in New York, in partnership with New York University and Earth Day Network convened experts, from city hall to state and national capitals, to take stock on tackling the global plastic bag issue.
Hosted by Delegate General Jean-Claude Lauzon, the joint discussion with representatives of United Nations agencies and governments aimed to exchange on best practices in support of this year’s Earth Day theme: A World without Plastic Pollution. Insights from the discussion are highlighted in Lessons from the countries fighting to kick the plastic bag addiction .
On January 1, 2018, Montréal became the first big city in Canada to ban single-use plastic bags. The Canadian federal government will also be leveraging its presidency at this year’s G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Québec to push the global plastic problem front and center.
“We are very proud that Montréal became the first major city in Canada to ban single-use plastic bags and I am delighted that are gathering today to discuss best pratice and further action," said Mr. Lauzon at the start of the roundtable. "For the sake of our children and grandchildren, let’s work together to make our future free of plastic pollution.”
“Plastic pollutants are turning up in everything from endangered wildlife to municipal water supplies and we, as users of plastic, must come up with solutions,” said Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network. “We thank the government of Québec and NYU for joining with us in this important forum."
“Montréal has already taken a significant step in banning single-use plastic bags and it’s time for New York City and cities across the United States to do the same,” said Carolyn Kissane, Academic Director and Clinical Associate Professor at NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Global Affairs. “Reducing plastic bag use is just one of many solutions to creating a more sustainable environment and society and it’s something we can all start doing today.”
According to international experts, it is estimated that approximately a trillion plastic bags are used around the world every year. If current pollution rates continue, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The average plastic bag is used for 20 minutes and takes more than 400 years to break down. To give these numbers a local context, in 2015, the world produced 322 million tons of plastic. That equals 900 Empire State Buildings!