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Demonstrators call for end to plastic pollution as UN treaty talks set to begin in Ottawa

More than 100 people marched from Parliament Hill Sunday as delegates from the United Nations are set to gather in Ottawa the week of Earth Day to discuss how to eliminate plastic waste.

More than 4,000 delegates and 176 countries are coming to the capital in hopes of creating a legally-binding global treaty to eliminate plastic waste by 2040.

With the fourth of five rounds of negotiations set to take place this week, the goal is to have a deal finalized by the end of the year.

Demonstrators were calling for an end to plastic pollution.

“I think it’s imperative that the voices of Indigenous people, especially here in Canada, are at the forefront of these treaty negotiations. We’re not stakeholders. We are the people of the land. We are the scientists. We are the knowledge keepers,” said Ginwkwe, knowledge keeper at the Society of Native Nations.

The use of plastic has dramatically increased in the past decade. Canadian Climate Institute president Rick Smith says half of all plastic ever produced has been made in just the past 15 years.

“There’s so much plastic waste in the environment now and one of the main issues with plastic now is that we are actually absorbing it into our bodies,” Smith said.

Its impact on nature and growing health concerns are leading the push to get rid of plastic waste and eliminate problematic chemicals used to make it.

“There’s a lot of commonality amongst countries gathered here that we need to grapple with the problem and find solutions because waste management systems everywhere in the world are overwhelmed,” Smith said.

Plastic production and waste is expected to triple by 2060, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

But less than 10 per cent of the plastic used across the globe is recycled. Here in Canada, 80 per cent ends up in the landfill or as garbage for someone else to pick up.

Daniel Whiting and his two daughters were among dozens of volunteers getting a jump start on Earth Day, collecting garbage.

“We’ve only been out here maybe 15 minutes and I’ve got a full bin and they’ve each got two full bags already,” said Whiting.

Delegates will begin negotiations on Tuesday and they’re expected to run for seven days.

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