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Ottawa deve declarar plásticos como substância tóxica

O governo federal pretende designar, em breve, os plásticos como substâncias tóxicas. Durante a última campanha eleitoral, os Liberais prometeram proibir alguns plásticos de uso único já em 2021, um plano que faz parte da estratégia nacional para reduzir o desperdício e a poluição.

 

Microplásticos num pássaro

O país está determinado a lutar pelas alterações climáticas e depois da criação de uma taxa nacional para as emissões de dióxido de carbono (CO2), agora segue-se a declaração do plástico como substância tóxica.

Recorde-se que esta semana, devido à pandemia do COVID-19, o Supremo Tribunal do Canadá adiou, pelo menos até junho, o julgamento constitucional do imposto de carbono criado pelo governo federal. Saskatchewan e Ontário, as duas províncias que se opõem à criação deste imposto, deveriam ser ouvidas na próxima semana, mas o COVID-19 cancelou os julgamentos e suspendeu a atividade dos tribunais.

Pelo segundo ano consecutivo, no ano passado a Nestlé e o Tim Hortons foram as empresas canadianas que mais contribuíram para a poluição através da utilização de plásticos. A informação é avançada pela Greenpeace Canadá e falamos de artigos de plástico que estão presentes no nosso dia a dia, o caso das garrafas e das tampas de plástico ou os simples copos de café.

Depois da Nestlé e do Tim Hortons, seguem-se a Starbucks, o McDonald’s e a Coca-Cola Company. Os principais produtos de plástico que mais poluem são 10: beatas de cigarros; garrafas e tampas de plástico; embalagens dos alimentos; palhinhas e artigos de plástico utilizados para mexer as bebidas; copos e tampas de encaixe; tampões; pedaços de espuma; sacos; talheres e cuvetes.

Em resposta à Greenpeace Canadá, cada uma destas empresas garante que faz os possíveis para reduzir a pegada ecológica. A Nestlé diz que tem feito esforços para eliminar o plástico e garantir que todos os seus produtos vão ser recicláveis e reutilizáveis em 2025. O Tim Hortons, a única empresa originária do Canadá nesta lista de principais poluentes, sublinha que tem oferecido descontos de 10 centavos desde 1978 para encorajar os consumidores a reutilizarem os seus copos/canecos. A Starbucks garante que continua dedicada à investigação e ao desenvolvimento de programas que visam eliminar o desperdício e aumentar a reciclagem e eliminou este ano as palhinhas de plástico em todas as suas lojas. A McDonald’s recorda que desde 2018 que está determinada a reciclar 100% das suas embalagens e a Coca-Cola informa que tem planos para recolher uma garrafa por cada uma que é vendida até 2030.

O governo federal propôs a eliminação do uso de plástico único, mas ainda não disse quais os itens que vai abranger e que vão ser permitidos. Anualmente o mundo produz cerca de 300 milhões de toneladas de plástico e cerca de oito milhões acabam nos oceanos. Se não alterarmos os nossos hábitos em 2050 os oceanos vão ter mais plástico do que peixe. Em 1997 o velejador Charles Moore descobriu a Ilha de Lixo do Pacífico, uma massa de plástico flutuante que tem 17 vezes o tamanho de Portugal. Se nada for feito mais ilhas se seguirão e maior será a contaminação da nossa cadeia alimentar.  No Canadá cada cidadão consome em média, durante um ano, 1025 garrafas de plástico, 700 sacos de plástico, 720 copos de uso único e 730 palhas de plástico. Lauren Latour é coordenadora da Climate Action Network Canada-Réseau Action CLimat Canada, uma organização nacional que influencia as políticas climáticas internacionais.

Latour aceitou falar com o Milénio Stadium a propósito desta nova medida que o governo federal se prepara para tomar e sublinhou que a redução do consumo de plástico tem de ser encorajada e subsidiada pelo governo provincial e federal.

A título de curiosidade, desde que o mundo enfrenta a pandemia do COVID-19 e que grande parte da produção mundial parou, prevê-se que este ano as emissões de CO2 sofram uma redução de 7%. O shutdown da China poderá ter impedido, até agora, a libertação de 200 milhões de toneladas de Co2, qualquer coisa como 25% das emissões daquele país.

Milénio Stadium: What is the role of Climate Action Network Canada in the country?

Lauren Latour

Lauren Latour: Climate Action Network Canada is a convening body with some 120 different member organizations. Our members range in size and focus, but each comes to the table bringing with them a distinct interest in climate change, and climate action whether that be at a municipal, provincial, or federal level. We work to provide a space in which these organizations can communicate and collaborate together, allowing for effective movement cohesion. We also work at both domestic and international levels to influence climate policy, and carve out space for civil society participation in otherwise unwelcoming political spaces.

MS: The federal government intends to designate plastics as toxic substance. From now on the government will have the authority to regulate and limit certain products. What will be those products and how are Canadians prepared to ban single-use plastics in 2021?

LL: The banning of single-use plastics will certainly result in changes to the lives of Canadians, however, it should be emphasized that the responsibility for this change falls primarily to the government for enforcement of regulations, and to corporations for adapting to these regulations, and not to everyday Canadians. The adoption of a ban like this has the potential to provide space for innovation in materials manufacturing and product design – Starbucks isn’t going to stop serving coffee, but they will have to change how they serve it, and what they serve it in.

MS: Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, instigator of “school climate strikes”, called a “digital strike” Wednesday (18) against the spread of the new coronavirus, arguing the recommendations of health authorities to limit gatherings. Is this the right way to fight from climate change?

LL: Given the times we find ourselves in, heeding public health recommendations is of the highest priority. With the strength of the social media presence of the youth strikes, and Fridays for Future, it makes sense for this to be the call to action for the foreseeable future. What has also been really amazing to see in recent days is the outpouring of community support by youth and climate activists. It’s understood by these young people that there are many in their communities who need aid and attention – and they’re responding to this need. Talented community organizers and activists are pivoting their attentions from broad, wide-reaching efforts like marches and strikes, to deeper relationship building and support for those in their neighbourhoods and social circles-offering help in the form of food delivery, errand running for the elderly or immunocompromised, and providing emotional and mental care to friends and family online. Efforts to combat climate catastrophe goes beyond merely lowering emissions, and I think we’re seeing that reflected in the actions of these young people.

MS: Nestle and Tim Hortons continue to top the list of top plastic polluters in Canada, according to Greenpeace. Nestle claims that they are speeding up efforts to ensure that all packaging is recyclable or reusable by 2025 and Tim Hortons underlines that they offer a discount of 10 cents, since 1978, to encourage consumers to bring a reusable mug. However, they continue to be the main plastic polluters in the country.

LL: I think what this reflects is the need for the companies to take responsibility for the life of their product – from cradle to cradle as it were. By requiring consumers to bring their own bags, or mugs to prevent plastic pollution, we’re effectively allowing these companies to avoid their responsibilities, and the ways in which they are culpable. Materials being recyclable is a step in the right direction, but ultimately only a band-aid solution, as plastic can only be recycled a dozen times or so, before it degrades past the point of use. We need to see these companies literally accept responsibility for their product’s end-of-life. Having to incorporate these end-of-life costs into their accounting will result in a different approach to disposable products on the part of corporations.

MS: Provincial and federal governments have to encourage companies and people to use bioplastics just like they did it with the electric cars?

LL: Bioplastics, though a move in the right direction, aren’t a solution in themselves. They are usually impossible to compost in backyard compost systems, and even in some municipal systems. Reducing plastic pollution will inevitably require encouragement and subsidy from provincial and federal governments.

MS: How did the coronavirus helped the environment?

LL: Any reduction we might see in greenhouse gas emissions, or pollution resulting from extraction and manufacturing will only be temporary. An opportunity that is being provided as a result of this global health crisis, isn’t in the virus itself, which is devastating populations around the world, but is instead to be found in our response and reaction to the virus. We have an opportunity to come together with compassion and in support of one another, and this should be the mindset with which we approach any economic stimulus that might be required to overcome the worst effects of the crisis. What we see a need for now is for care: for a universal basic income to provide for those who are out of work as a result of the crisis, we see a need for an increase in healthcare spending and support – universal healthcare, and pharmacare are both integral if we are to ensure those who are sick are able to get treatment. Any economic stimulus package must prioritize the needs of individuals and families, over the needs of corporations, and when it comes time to rebuild, and create work, any and all new projects must be in alignment with carbon reduction targets that put us on a path for net- zero emissions by mid-century.

Joana Leal/MS

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