Reduce, Reduce, Reduce: The Recycling Council of Alberta’s Perspective on UN Treaty Negotiations (INC-4) on Plastic Pollution

Connector April 2024


April 29, 2024

RE: Reduce, Reduce, Reduce: The Recycling Council of Alberta’s Perspective on UN Treaty Negotiations (INC-4) on Plastic Pollution

The Recycling Council of Alberta (RCA) applauds the nations actively involved in the fourth round of negotiations for a UN treaty that happened in Ottawa last week called INC-4. The Treaty aims to bring plastics into a circular economy on an international scale through a commitment to a global set of rules addressing the full lifecycle of plastics.

“The overall climate at INC-4 reflected a strong desire on the part of participants to develop a serious and bold agreement to tackle plastic pollution,” said Christina Seidel, former Executive Director of the RCA, who attended and moderated a session at the negotiations in Ottawa. She adds, “The feeling, evidenced through statements delivered by international speakers from across the globe, included the belief that the need is real and paramount, and we have an imperative to move forward on aggressive actions that will tackle the problem.” 

In Alberta, we understand the significance of the plastics industry to our economy. In fact, Alberta’s plastics industry ranks among the province’s largest manufacturing sectors, as per a 2017 report[1]. Additionally, while recycling remains a vital aspect of plastic waste management, it cannot be solely relied upon. Only 9% of plastics are recycled globally (and nationally) while the rest ends up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities or the environment[2]. Bearing this in mind, we acknowledge that a bolder, yet balanced approach is needed to manage the lifecycle of plastics in our province.

Current RCA Executive Director, Jennifer Koole, suggests that ‘The RCA recognizes the importances of plastics in Alberta and in our daily lives but we also recognize the undeniable need to take steps that will lead to reduced plastics pollution at home and around the world. While recycling is absolutely still needed, we cannot rely on recycling our way out of the growing problem.’ She goes on to state that the shift to reducing our dependence on unnecessary and problematic plastics is a smart place to start, and when we can’t quite get there, making sure that plastic products and packaging are designed in a way to make them more recyclable as a next priority. This idea is also a key component of the Treaty.

Koole advocates for an ethos of ‘Reduce, Reduce, Reduce’ concerning plastics, proposing the following measures:

  • Reduce Consumer Demand: Implement solutions to curtail the use of unnecessary or disposable plastic items.
  • Reduce Environmental Impact: Work towards minimizing or eliminating problematic plastics to mitigate their adverse effects on the environment and public health.
  • Reduce the Extent of the Issue and track progress through Reuse Programs and Accountability:  Enhance transparency, tracking, and promote the circulation of plastics through multiple useful life cycles via reuse.

The Recycling Council of Alberta is doing its part to contribute to local and global efforts by:

  • Supporting the Government of Alberta’s commitment to a plastics circular economy to keep plastics within the economy and out of the environment leading to triple bottom line benefits. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2040 a circular economy has the potential to reduce the annual volume of plastics entering our oceans by 80%, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, generate savings of USD 200 bn per year, and create 700,000 net additional jobs[3].
  • Supporting our members who are actively involved in recycling plastics responsibly.
  • Using our annual circular economy conference as a platform to connect innovators, facilitating collaboration and knowledge-sharing to advance sustainable solutions for plastic management.
  • Keeping conversations focused on programs that reduce the need for unnecessary items like some single-use products and promoting the right to repair.
  • Advocating for systems that shift responsibility for end-of-life product management back to producers, such as EPR, and supporting our national peers by serving as an implementation partner for the Canada Plastics Pact.

For more information about the Recycling Council of Alberta and our initiatives please visit

[1] “Alberta’s Plastic Resins and Plastic Products Industry.” 2017.

[2] Government of Canada. 2021. “Plastic Waste and Pollution Reduction.” July 9, 2021.

[3] Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “Plastics and the Circular Economy.” Accessed 29 Apr. 2024.

For further inquiries, please contact:
(403) 879-5123