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North Island MP wants to ban polystyrene to keep foams out of oceans

Rachel Blaney’s private member’s motion would ban expanded and extruded polystyrene
Surfrider Pacific Rim’s Alys Hoyland, front, Amorita Adair, and Laurie Hannah are stoked about swapping out the foam on Tofino’s First Street dock with more eco-friendly air-filled floats in 2021. (Nora O’Malley photo)

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney wants to take polystyrene out of Canada’s oceans.

Blaney introduced a private member’s motion to the House of Commons urging the government to ban both expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) from floating structures like docks.

“Research suggests that dock flotation foam is one of the leading causes of plastic pollution in Canada’s oceans, lakes, and rivers,” Blaney says. “When microparticles become part of the aquatic environment, they are consumed by fish, dolphins, whales, and birds. They can also work their way into the food system. This is a critical threat to the ocean, the ecosystem, and to human health.”

The federal government has added EPS to the list of toxic substances. However, Blaney’s release says that there have been no steps taken to regulate its use in construction of marine structures. The other substance, XPS, has not been added to the toxic substances list though experts have warned against the risks of both EPS and XPS in the water.

“During our extensive shoreline cleanups in BC’s Central Salish Sea, we consistently find that the volume of foam from dock flotation far, far exceeds that of all the single use plastics named in Canada’s recent ban combined. Banning dock foam alone would significantly reduce plastic pollution in Canadian waters,” said Catherine Ostler, Policy Lead, Fishing for Plastic Environmental Society.

Blaney has partnered with Fishing for Plastic Environmental Society and Surfrider Canada to launch a letter-writing campaign supporting the motion, which calls for a complete ban of the foams across Canada. Other Canadian-made alternatives are available. Blaney said that despite receiving numerous petitions from Canadians concerned about protecting Canada’s waters, the government has continually declined to take any meaningful action.

“Protecting our waterways is a vital issue to all Canadians,” Blaney said. “We have the technology and understanding to solve this problem and this government needs to do better. I will continue pushing the Liberals to take the steps needed to protect our water from these harmful foams. I invite all Canadians to join me in demanding the federal government implement this ban, for our health and for the health of our ecosystem.”

Those interested can visit to add their names in support.

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