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The urgency to act against plastic pollution: a global and Canadian issue

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June 12th 2024

Plastic pollution threatens our environment and our health

Plastic pollution has become a major environmental crisis on a global scale, affecting every corner of the planet and threatening the health of ecosystems and humans. In Canada, the situation is alarming, requiring concrete actions to reverse the trend. This article explores the extent of plastic pollution around the world and in Canada, its consequences, and current initiatives to address it.

Plastic pollution in figures

Global plastic production reached record highs in 2021 with more than 460 million tonnes produced, and this figure could triple by 2060 if drastic measures are not taken. Currently, only 9% of these plastics are properly recycled. The rest often ends up in incinerators, landfills, or worse, the environment. Every year, between 19 and 23 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in our rivers, lakes and oceans.

The situation in Canada

In 2023, Canada generated 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste, much of which was exported to the United States, India and Malaysia for processing. Despite the ambitious goal of zero plastic waste by 2030, only 9% of the 3.2 million tonnes of plastic waste produced each year by Canadians is recycled. About 40% of these plastics come from disposable items like beverage bottles, coffee cups and takeout containers.

Did you know?

The St. Lawrence River, one of the waterways most polluted by microplastics in the world, clearly illustrates the scale of the crisis. Research carried out by McGill University has revealed a concentration of micro plastics in its sediments comparable to that of the most contaminated ocean floors. According to results published in the journal Environmental Pollution in May 2020, the average concentration of micro plastics in the sediments and surface water of the St. Laurent River would be of the same magnitude as those measured near the most populated cities in China.

Impacts on health and the environment

Micro plastics, defined as plastic particles measuring up to five millimeters in diameter, are omnipresent in our environment. They were found in Ottawa’s drinking water, where a person drinking the recommended 2.5 liters of water per day ingested approximately 5,400 plastic nanoparticles. These particles are also found in our foods, from fruits and vegetables to meats and seafood. A 2021 study detected micro plastics in apples, pears, carrots, lettuce, broccoli and potatoes.

The consequences for human health are worrying. Medical research links exposure to plastics to various health problems, including infertility, higher rates of miscarriage, and certain cancers. Micro plastics, once ingested or inhaled, can infiltrate tissues and organs, posing risks that are still largely unknown.

Plastic pollution: the hotel industry, a major player

The United Nations calls our volume of plastic waste a global crisis, highlighting its threat to the environment. Among the main contributors to this pollution, the international hotel industry particularly stands out. Each year, this industry generates around 150 million tonnes of single-use plastic, exacerbating the global problem of plastic pollution.168704218

The impact of the hotel industry

In the hospitality sector, only 12% of single-use plastic is actually recycled. To illustrate the scale of the problem, consider a 100-room hotel offering two plastic bottles of water per room each day. That’s potentially 73,000 pieces of plastic thrown away each year by this hotel alone. Globally, this practice results in millions of tons of plastic waste contributing to the environmental crisis.

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Plastic waste reduction initiatives

Fortunately, the hospitality industry has all the tools to act on this crisis by adopting simple, cost-effective measures to reduce plastic waste. These initiatives also respond to growing customer demand for more environmentally friendly practices, which can improve establishments’ public image.

As hotels are large users of plastic bottles, any modification on their part has a significant impact on the environment. In addition, these changes are practical, economical and significantly improve the image of the hotel

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Bottling systems and ecological alternatives

One of the most effective ways for hotels to reduce their plastic waste is to install bottling systems. These systems offer several advantages:

  • Constant availability: Guests always have access to drinking water, which they can easily refill in reusable bottles provided by the hotel.
  • Comfort and satisfaction: Customers appreciate the convenience of having water at their fingertips without generating plastic waste.
  • Eco-responsibility: Hotels can display their ecological commitment, which is increasingly valued by consumers.
  • Guarantee water quality: Thanks to our microfiltration systems, the water supplied is of superior quality. These systems guarantee neutral-tasting and odor-free water, while effectively filtering lead, sediment, bacteria, and any other contaminants. This way you can ensure that you are drinking 100% pure and healthy water.

Learn more about our products

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Bottling systems allow reusable bottles to be refilled as needed, eliminating bottle surplus or shortage issues. This creates a smooth, hassle-free customer experience, while reducing operational costs associated with purchasing and disposing of plastic bottles.

A profitable investment

Investing in bottling systems and other eco-friendly alternatives is a long-term strategic decision. Not only does this reduce plastic waste, but it also generates significant savings over the years. By avoiding the recurring costs associated with purchasing disposable plastic bottles, hotels can reinvest those savings into other aspects of their service or infrastructure. Even for smaller establishments, providing reusable water bottles can save money in the long run. For example, a cafeteria or small hotel that adopts our KUPA flavor fountain and drinking fountains with bottle fillers can eliminate the need to purchase bottled water, juices, sugary and carbonated drinks. This not only reduces costs, but also the establishment’s environmental footprint.

Learn more about the KUPA Flavor Fountain

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A greener future for hospitality

Reducing plastic waste in the hospitality industry is not only an environmental necessity, it is also an opportunity to stand out and meet increasingly demanding customer expectations. By adopting more sustainable practices, hotels can provide a better experience for their guests while helping to preserve our planet.

In conclusion, tackling plastic pollution requires concerted efforts from all industries. By implementing solutions to reduce plastic waste, business sectors like hotels can play a crucial role in this global battle. Adopting more sustainable practices is not only a necessity for the planet, but also a winning strategy to meet the growing expectations of environmentally conscious customers. Together we can make a significant difference in the fight against plastic pollution.

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