Dozens of employees and family members from Pratt & Whitney Canada as well as Longueuil environmental group Ciel et Terre recently participated in the 20th annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. What they found along a stretch of the St. Lawrence River near P&WC's head office shocked them – and underscored the need for society to reduce waste at its source.
"When you participate in an activity like this, it's always a big eye opener," said Denis Poignonec of P&WC's Environment, Health & Safety Central Team, who helped organize P&WC's involvement in this year's Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. "Even though you collect so much waste, you feel like you haven't really done much. It's a reminder that we all need to be more environmentally conscious."
The approximately 70 volunteers, equipped with gloves, garbage grabbers, buckets and plastic bags, and working in 10 teams, spent several hours on clearing up a stretch of shoreline near P&WC's head office in Longueuil between the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and the Lafontaine Tunnel. A comprehensive list of waste was drawn up under categories such as fast-food garbage, personal hygiene items and refuse generated by boating activities.
The final tally was sobering and included more than 270 plastic bags, 320 plastic utensils, 1,500 beverage cans and bottles, 1,400 cigarette butts, 34 lighters, 140 dead fish and birds, 36 large containers, 26 batteries, 16 car tires, two cross-country skis, one shock absorber and a funeral urn.
"That's only a partial list," Poignonec noted. "It underscores the importance of us stepping up efforts to dramatically reduce waste at the source. For example, at Pratt & Whitney Canada, one of our five sustainable development goals is to eliminate all waste sent to landfill by 2028 as part of our vision to be the best aerospace company FOR the world. This will require each of us to make recycling and waste reduction part of our daily lives."
P&WC volunteers also participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup last year, which, through the support of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has grown into a nationwide program since being established by the Vancouver Aquarium in 1994. Fall cleanups continued through October 31, coinciding with Waste Reduction Week (October 20-26), another major program designed to inform Canadians about the environmental and social ramifications of wasteful practices.