"This will fundamentally change how Canadians recycle and the amount of material that's recovered and recycled," Masterson said. "We want Canadians to also be aware that the systems are changing and that they can have hope. We hear a lot of conversations from critics saying recycling can't work, it won't work, and we have evidence that it does work, and it can work. We expect to have major positive changes in the coming years."
The initial three-year project also includes tracking public opinions toward plastics. The group's goal is to reduce the amount of plastic heading to landfill and make it part of circular economy.
The Nov. 16 announcement of the project cites government data that estimates almost C$8 billion (US$6 billion) worth of plastic sent to landfill could be recycled. By saving plastic from landfills, the country could meet up to 60 percent of plastic demand with recycled plastics by 2050.
Right now, an estimated 10-12 percent of plastic is recycled in Canada. With much of the country poised to implement extended producer responsibility programs, the association expects that percentage to grow significantly.
Regulations are in place for EPR programs in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. British Columbia, which already has an industry-paid recycling program, was able to increase plastics recycling from 41 percent to 55 percent in four years.
Save Plastic is aiming for a call-to-action approach to show how recycling can succeed in other provinces.
"We're not running away from the fact that plastics do enter the environment and they shouldn't," Masterson said.
Canada is preparing to ban some single-use plastics, a move that industry groups have challenged.
Save Plastic intends to counter negative associations with plastics in the environment. Masterson said CIAC will track public opinion and hopes to show its member companies that it is having a positive impact.
"This is trying to reach those who, when presented with a more complete set of information, are willing to reconsider some of the things they've heard about plastics and view them in a more complete light," Masterson said.
CIAC said Save Plastics will be a full social media campaign, which it feels will be the most effective way to reach the most people.