Marine debris, including plastic waste, is a serious threat to our oceans, lakes and rivers.

Animals can get tangled in this garbage or try to eat it, with deadly consequences. Microplastics (tiny bits of plastic less than 5 millimetres in size) can be consumed by small organisms and spread throughout the food chain.

Like climate change, plastics pollution is a global problem and requires action at all levels.


Three people in Parks Canada uniforms piling bags of trash

What is plastics pollution?

A significant amount of plastic pollution comes from the items we use, and throw away, every day – plastic bags, beverage bottles, food packaging, etc.

Over 8 million tonnes of plastic flow into the ocean every year. That’s like dumping one garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute.


Shoreline cleanups

Shoreline cleanups are held across the country, and hundreds of volunteers help clean debris off shorelines each year.

Conserving places

Canada’s goal is to protect 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas by 2020. New National Marine Conservation Areas will help to manage plastics pollution in Canadian waters.

Traditional knowledge and science

Guardian and Watchmen programs support Indigenous land management for several coastal regions.

The five most common items collected in Canada’s shoreline cleanups

1. Tiny plastic pieces or foam
2. Cigarette butts
3. Plastic beverage bottles
4. Food wrappers
5. Plastic bottle caps

Source: The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Ways to reduce plastics on your visit:

  • Take along reusable dishware (including cutlery, water bottles and mugs)
  • Buy products that minimize plastic packaging
  • Avoid single-use plastics such as plastic bags, coffee cups, drinking straws, stir sticks, etc.
  • Dispose of your garbage properly – and recycle any plastic you can
  • Join a shoreline cleanup at one of our national parks and historic sites
Learn more about Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.

Join other Canadians talking about plastic pollution

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