Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to provide the House with some information related to the efforts of Canada and other jurisdictions to deliver real solutions on the issue of microplastics, including microbeads.
As usual, the Conservative government is already out ahead on this issue. What is less usual but very commendable is that the opposition is now also becoming alive to it and joining with the Conservative government in responding to this issue.
Microplastics entering the environment is a matter that crosses many jurisdictional boundaries. I understand that Environment Canada is taking action on this issue with provincial and territorial governments, the United States and with the broader international and research communities, and also with Canadian industry.
Advancing research has increased awareness about the presence of microplastics in the environment. This includes Canadian research on the levels of microplastics in the Great Lakes, in the St. Lawrence Seaway and in British Columbia.
Other Canadian studies are investigating, for example, the release of microfibres from washing clothes. Still other Canadian studies are looking at waste water effluents and sediments. While we have some answers, this research is by no means complete. Many questions remain not just in Canada but globally.
To improve our science-based understanding of the sources and environmental impacts of microplastics, Canada is participating in several international initiatives. These include initiatives under the International Maritime Organization and also the United Nations environment program.
Canadian research organizations are also working with the U.S. based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and American universities to integrate research on plastic marine debris in the Great Lakes.
Other countries are also working with Canada to better understand the sources, the impact and the options to address microplastics. A key interest of several of out allies is the issue of marine litter. To this end, a recent workshop of G7 member countries was held to consider that issue, and four principles were adopted to guide further action. These include: first, improvement to systems to prevent, reduce and to remove marine litter; second, support for international development assistance and investment; third, promotion of individual and corporate behaviour change through public awareness and education; and fourth recognition that prevention is key to long-term success.
While research has not yet reached definitive conclusions regarding the potential negative impacts of microplastics, efforts are under way in Canada and in other jurisdictions to prevent plastic waste from even entering the environment. Therefore, in Canada for many years we have been working hard to keep plastics out of waterways and out of the environment in general.
Canadian blue box programs, for example, promote recycling and successfully divert plastics and other materials away from landfill sites. However, there is always room for improvement. As such, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment recently adopted a strategy to further improve Canada's record on reducing and recycling waste.
Our collective governments are implementing extended producer responsibility programs to support diversion of waste from landfills and to increase recycling. These efforts, including the reduction of single-use bags distributed to customers, have been adopted by several provincial jurisdictions and will further promote the recycling of plastics. This is all very good news.
In the United States, individual states have recently launched efforts to stop the production and sale of microbeads. In June 2014, Illinois passed a law prohibiting the manufacture of personal care products that contained microbeads. By the end of 2017, these types of cosmetic products will no longer be produced in Illinois, and they may no longer be sold by the end of 2018. Similar legislation is under consideration in Ohio, New York, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado and New Jersey—