The 50th World Environment Day was hosted with focus on solutions to plastic pollution. #BeatPlasticPollution
- This article is excerpt of Beat Plastic Pollution Practical Guide from UN Environment programme. (unep.org).
- While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become addicted to single-use plastic products with severe environmental, social, economic and health consequences.
- Around the world, 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes.
- Plastic affects:
- Biodiversity, with devastating effects on a wide array of organisms.
- Climate Crisis with one of the most energy intensive manufacturing process leading to global warming and
- Human Health by micro plastics that have serious impact on health, especially in women.
- The global trade in plastics has expanded to more than US$1 Tr annually. But, so have the economic costs of plastic pollution. Widespread plastic waste results in damage to ecosystems and human health worth US$300 – $600 Bn / year.
- A shift to a circular economy by 2040 could create savings of more than US$4.5 trillion. It would also reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions by 25% and create additional jobs and improve livelihoods for millions of workers. In short, moving away from the current unsustainable model is better for the planet, the climate, our health and the economy.
Where is plastic waste coming from?
How can we solve the crisis?
Plastic pollution is a global problem and solving it requires global approach and each stakeholders has a role to play.
- Individuals: Individual actions underpin the systemic change required to transition to a less plastic economy. Each of us can use our voice & choices to drive change.
- Finance: Investors can act as levers for change through their expertise, influence and scale and set standards for business and industries.
- Business & Industry: Given that 20 companies produce over half of all single-use plastic in the world, a vital shift is needed in how businesses and industries produce, consume and dispose of plastic. Businesses have to adopt sustainable practices, engage with supply chains & consumers, and invest in innovation.
Much progress is needed to beat plastic pollution, including reducing plastic production and consumption; transforming the value chain; efficient legislation, and effective monitoring systems to shift to circular approaches. Consumer pressure is key, but real action needs to come from companies, investors and governments.
Transitioning to circular approaches and plastic alternatives is critical. This involves a life-cycle approach, one where the impact of all the activities and outcomes associated with the production and consumption of plastic is considered.
Addressing plastic pollution requires a systemic change, with actions across the life cycle that address its root causes rather than its symptoms.
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