Plastics are one of the most revolutionary innovations of the modern world. They play a critical role in shaping our economy and our daily lives. However, the way in which plastics are used, managed and disposed of can pose significant challenges for the environment and for our health.

Many plastics have the ability to be recovered, recycled or reconstituted more than once but this value is lost when they are discarded or improperly disposed of. Each day, plastic debris and fibres make their way into rivers, streams and lakes, where they accumulate. It is estimated that approximately 22 million pounds of plastic flows into the Great Lakes alone each year, highlighting an urgent need to address the issue of plastic waste. Industry, governments, academia and the non-profit sector have prioritized action on plastic waste reduction, committed to ambitious targets and worked to advance the circular economy for plastics and the extension of their lifecycle. The significance of the challenge facing the Great Lakes will require collaboration among these organizations and others, in an effort to continue to develop and implement innovative solutions.

On October 11th, 2018, Pollution Probe and the Council of the Great Lakes Region hosted the Great Lakes Plastics Forum in Toronto, Canada. The forum provided an opportunity for a range of experts to convene and exchange ideas about how best to work together to develop innovative and practical solutions to the issue of plastic waste and improper disposal, supported by sound public policy.

The forum was made possible through generous support from the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, Canadian Plastics Industry Association, Ice River and the University of Toronto. Keynote remarks were delivered by the Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The Final Report is now available for download here.

Speakers and Presentations

Bob Masterson
President & CEO,
Chemistry Industry Association of Canada

Sarah Da Silva
President & CEO,
Chemistry Industry Association of Canada

Sarah Da Silva
President & CEO,
Chemistry Industry Association of Canada

Christopher Hilkene
Chief Executive Officer,
Pollution Probe

Dr. Chelsea Rochman
Assistant Professor,
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
University of Toronto

Paul Helm
Sr. Research Scientist, 
Great Lakes,
Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

Ken Faulkner
Director, Government Relations,
NOVA Chemicals

Carol Hochu
President and CEO,
Canadian Plastics Industry Association

Joe Hruska
Vice President, Sustainability,
Canadian Plastics Industry Association

Shelley Snider
Chief Government Affairs Officer,
Ice River Springs

Scott Thurlow 
Dow Chemical


Participating Organizations
  • Actual Media
  • BASF Canada
  • The Canadian Beverage Association
  • Canadian Bottled Water Association
  • Canadian Plastics Industry Association
  • Chemistry Industry Association of Canada
  • Coca Cola Ltd.
  • Cosmetics Alliance Canada
  • Council of the Great Lakes Region
  • DOW Chemicals
  • Emterra Group
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Environmental Defence
  • Georgian Bay Forever
  • Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
  • Ice River
  • Imperial Oil Limited
  • Lake Ontario Waterkeeper
  • McMaster University
  • Nestle Waters Canada
  • NOVA Chemicals
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
  • Pollution Probe
  • Recycling Council of Ontario
  • Ryerson Urban Water
  • Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
  • Unilever Canada
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Western Ontario