Impacts and Challenges of Plastic Pollution Facing the Great Lakes Basin

The Toxics Free Great Lakes Binational Network in collaboration with the Canadian Environmental Law Association’s Healthy Great Lakes Program recently hosted a binational webinar on plastic pollution in the Great Lakes Basin.

Studies in the Great Lakes basin are showing an ever-increasing presence and impacts associated with plastic pollution. Solving this problem will require a binational response. Unfortunately, the U.S. and Canadian governments responsible for protecting the health of the Great Lakes Basin have not yet worked together to address this cross-basin problem. On the contrary, at the end of last year, the two federal governments took an action that is likely to make the risk greater.

On this webinar, you will learn about the new Canada-U.S. arrangement. You will also find out about a company proposal to take post-consumer plastic from Ontario and the eastern U.S. to a sorting facility in Erie, Pennsylvania. There it would be “flaked” and sorted, with a “proprietary blend” of this post-consumer plastic flake being shipped by barge across Lake Erie. In Nanticoke, Ontario this flaked, blended mixture of post-consumer plastics (#3-7) would be utilized in steel smelting processes. The new Canada-U.S. arrangement would facilitate this movement of plastic wastes across the border.

The webinar included the following speakers and presentations:

  • Sherri A. Mason, Ph.D., Sustainability Coordinator, Penn State Behrend, speaking on the extent and impacts of plastics on the Great Lakes. Her presentation is available for download here.
  • Olga Speranskaya, Ph.D, Co-Director, Health and Environmental Justice Support & Fe de Leon, MPH, Researcher and Paralegal, Canadian Environmental Law Association, speaking on the recent Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendments and the Canada-U.S. arrangement that sidetracks the goals of the Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendments.  Their presentation is available for download here.
  • Sarah Bennett, Campaign Manager, Clean Water Advocacy, PennFuture, and Lynda Lukasic, Executive Director, Environment Hamilton, speaking on the Erie PA – Nanticoke ON proposal.  Sarah Bennett’s presentation is available for download here. Lynda Lukasic’s presentation is available for download here.

The full recording is available below, and was originally aired on Monday, March 1, 2021

For more information, contact: Fe de Leon, CELA at deleonf@cela.ca