In campaign against plastic pollution, the world is making tentative progress

Tharmaplan Tilaxan/Cover Images via Reuters Connect

In 2018, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) joined forces with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to tackle what environmental experts call one of the world’s most dangerous addictions: single-use plastics.

Now, nearly half-way through the seven-year timeline of that Global Commitment to the New Plastics Economy, UNEP and partners find that, while progress has been made, the world needs to ramp up actions to curb plastic pollution.

Humanity dumps its own combined weight in plastics annually into ecosystems. That’s 300 million tonnes every year choking waterways and seas, clogging streets, harming wildlife and, ultimately, doing serious damage to public health.

To stem that tide, UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation lobbied private and public sector decisionmakers to commit to cultivating a circular economy around plastics, one in which plastics are made to last and to be reused – not simply thrown away. This would involve new products and business models, as well as enhanced recycling and composting systems.

Every year, the toxic trail of economic growth – pollution and waste – results in the premature deaths of millions of people while doing untold damage to the planet.

In a progress report published late last year, there was demonstrable improvement across numerous parameters in 2019:

  • The number of signatories, including plastics producers, financial institutions and governments, has expanded by 25 per cent to nearly 500.
  • Two areas have seen significant progress: the recycled content of plastic packaging has grown by 22 per cent, and 81 per cent of business and a full 100 per cent of government signatories have pledged to phase out the worst categories of plastic packaging, including PVC and single-use plastic bags and straws.
  • Fifty-six per cent of signatories have or are developing pilots to test reuse models in their value chains. Read more…

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