NDP present petition seeking plastic microbeads ban
In this 2012 photo, a sample of 'microbeads' collected in eastern Lake Erie is shown on the face of a penny. (Courtesy 5gyres.org / Carolyn Box)
Published Monday, May 25, 2015 12:14PM EDT
The NDP took its campaign against microbeads back to Parliament Hill on Monday, presenting a petition against the tiny bits of plastic they say are polluting Canadian waters.
Microbeads are tiny plastic fragments found in a variety of products including soaps, toothpastes and shower gels that are washed off with use.
The beads do not decompose, and easily pass through most water treatment systems, making their way into rivers and lakes.
They have been found in “high concentrations” in the Great Lakes, especially in areas near major cities, the NDP said in a statement on Monday.
The party had asked supporters to sign a online petitions asking the government to ban products containing microbeads, including one created by concerned citizen Tyler Doose on Change.org. As of Monday morning, Doose's petition had been signed by more than 44,000 people.
Doose was invited to Parliament Hill to present the petition with members of the NDP.
“There is a real need to act,” NDP Great Lakes Critic Brian Masse said.
“For the sake of our environment and our health, Canada must do as other countries have done and work to eliminate microbeads from everyday consumer products.”
The NDP introduced a motion in March seeking a ban on microbeads and asking the federal government to list them as a toxic substance.
The NDP motion was unanimously passed in the House of Commons, prompting the Conservative government to ask Environment Canada to study the dangers posed to wildlife and the environment. The government said the findings would determine a federal action plan.
On Monday, NDP Environment Critic Megan Leslie said the government is being too slow to act.
“The Conservatives promised to tackle this pollution problem; but nothing concrete has been undertaken to act on the unanimous will of the House,” she said.
A representative for Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said the government had taken immediate measures, despite Leslie's comments.
"Environment Canada has initiated a scientific review to assess the effects of microbeads on the environment," Aglukkaq's Press Secretary Shane Buckingham told CTVNews.ca in an email.
"This review will build on the successful work our Government has done over the past nine years to reduce the risks that chemicals pose to the health of Canadians and the environment. We will continue to take action to keep Canada's water clean and safeguard the health of Canadians while working with the provinces and territories to coordinate environmental initiatives."
South of the border, the beads have been banned in New Jersey and Illinois, and several other states are considering similar measures.