Challenges ahead until The Global Plastics Treaty is finalised

The Global Plastics Treaty is not yet finalised, but there are ways to help solve the problem. Photo by FreePik.

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Challenges ahead until The Global Plastics Treaty is finalised

Written by Inés Pereira

Until the Global Plastics Treaty is finalised, we cannot give up! In this article we will look at how we can all contribute to the success of the Global Plastics Treaty by promoting the fight against this serious pollution.

We have to change the way we consume, the way we produce and the way we dispose of our waste. That is the reality of our world. Change is inevitable. This Treaty, this instrument that we are working on, is the first domino of that change,” said William Ruto, President of Kenya, at one of the negotiating sessions of the Global Plastics Treaty.

Plastic pollution is a major threat to ecosystems, the climate and human well-being. According to the United Nations (UN), 46% of plastic waste worldwide is landfilled, 22% is mismanaged and becomes litter, 17% is incinerated, 15% is separated for recycling and less than 9% is actually recycled.

One of the main consequences is marine plastic pollution, which has increased tenfold since 1980 and affects at least 267 species, including 86% of sea turtles, 44% of seabirds and 43% of marine mammals. Air and soil pollution has also increased significantly.

To combat the problem, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), points out that “we need to use less virgin material, less plastic and no harmful chemicals. We must ensure that we use, reuse, and recycle resources more efficiently and dispose of what is left safely. We must use these negotiations to refine a powerful instrument to build a better future, free of plastic pollution.

According to UNEP, more than 14 million tonnes of plastic currently enter and damage aquatic ecosystems every year. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions from plastics are projected to account for 15 per cent of total allowable emissions by 2050 if humanity limits global warming to 1.5°C.

How can we all contribute to the success of the global plastics treaty?

We cannot give up until the Global Plastics Treaty is completed!

The success of the Global Plastics Treaty depends not only on the actions of governments and businesses, but also on the commitment and active participation of society at large. Awareness raising, public pressure and individual and collective action are some of the measures that will play a crucial role in promoting environmentally sound and socially equitable solutions to the plastics problem.

Actions we should all consider!

· Awareness raising and education:

Society needs to be aware of the negative impact of plastics on the environment and human health. Awareness campaigns and education programmes can help to inform the public about the problem and motivate them to support measures to reduce the use of plastics.

· Pressure on governments:

Citizens can lobby their local and national governments to adopt stronger policies on the use and management of plastics. This can include introducing bans or restrictions on the use of single-use plastics, promoting environmentally friendly and socially just alternatives, and improving the management of plastics.

· Changing our behaviour:

Society can help reduce plastic consumption by adopting greener lifestyles, such as not using single-use plastic products, reusing products whenever possible and choosing greener alternatives.

· Supporting local initiatives:

Community initiatives such as beach and river clean-ups, recycling programmes and environmental awareness groups play a vital role in reducing plastic pollution at a local level.

Supporting and participating in these activities can help promote a culture of environmental responsibility.

· Public participation:

Society can be involved in the decision-making process by responding to public consultations, signing petitions, and taking part in activities to ensure that environmental interests are represented and protected in plastic-related policy debates.

· Individual and collective responsibility:

Individuals have a responsibility to reduce their own plastic consumption and minimise their environmental impact. At the same time, society as a whole can work together to promote systemic changes that address the underlying causes of plastic pollution, such as overproduction and inappropriate/unconscious disposal.

Innovation and technological progress

In addition, many innovations and technological advances are being developed to combat this pollution. New forms of recycling, alternative materials, biodegradable and compostable materials, ocean clean-up technology and plastic tracking are some of them.

In terms of recycling, there are more and more new technologies, such as chemical recycling, where chemical processes break down polymers into their basic components, allowing new plastic materials to be produced without loss of quality, and advanced recycling, where advances are being developed to separate and process different types of plastic more efficiently, allowing wider and more complete recycling.

In terms of alternative materials, plastics made from renewable sources such as corn starch, cellulose and agricultural waste are being developed as alternatives to conventional plastics made from fossil fuels. In addition, bio-based plastics produced by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi offer a biodegradable alternative to traditional plastics.

The development of plastics that break down faster in the environment, either through biological processes or composting, reducing the lifetime of plastic waste and its environmental impact, is also an innovation to combat this problem.

Ocean clean-up technologies use underwater robots and floating barriers to reduce plastics in marine ecosystems.

In addition, GPS tracking technologies are being developed to monitor the movement of plastic waste and identify pollution hotspots, helping to implement prevention and clean-up measures.

The plastic pollution scenario is complex and will continue to evolve in the coming decades unless a collective effort is made to combat this serious environmental problem. Until the Global Plastics Treaty is finalised, the emerging challenges and opportunities to work together against this enemy are crucial.

Supporting documents:

Links:

complementary activities

Scaling-up Ambition & Action on Plastic Pollution at INC
Multi-stakeholder Forum

EASY

Challenges ahead until The Global Plastics Treaty is finalised

Written by Inés Pereira

Until the Global Plastics Treaty is finalised, we cannot give up! In this article we will look at how we can all contribute to the success of the Global Plastics Treaty by promoting the fight against this serious pollution.

Plastic pollution is a major threat to ecosystems, the climate and human well-being. According to the United Nations (UN), 46% of plastic waste worldwide is landfilled, 22% is poorly managed and becomes litter, 17% is incinerated and 15% is separated for recycling, but less than 9% is actually recycled. Today, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), more than 14 million tonnes of plastic enter and damage aquatic ecosystems every year.

 How can we all contribute to the success of the global plastics treaty?

We cannot give up until the Global Plastics Treaty is completed!

The success of the Global Plastics Treaty depends not only on the actions of governments and companies, but also on the commitment and active participation of society at large.

Actions we should all consider!

  • Awareness raising and education:

Awareness campaigns and education programmes can help inform the public about the problem and motivate them to support measures to reduce plastic use.

  • Pressure on governments:

Citizens can lobby their local and national governments to adopt stricter policies on the use and management of plastics.

  • Changing behaviour:

Society can help reduce plastic consumption by adopting greener lifestyles and choosing more environmentally friendly alternatives.

  • Support for local initiatives:

Community initiatives such as beach and river clean-ups, recycling programmes and environmental awareness groups play a vital role in reducing plastic pollution.

  • Public participation:

Society can be involved in the decision-making process by responding to public consultations, signing petitions, and taking part in activities that ensure that environmental interests are represented.

  • Individual and collective responsibility:

Everyone has a responsibility to reduce their own plastic consumption and minimise their impact on the environment.

Innovations and technological advances 

In addition, many innovations and technological advances are being developed to combat this pollution. New forms of recycling, alternative materials, biodegradable and compostable materials, ocean clean-up technology and plastic tracking are some of them.

In terms of recycling, there are more and more emerging technologies, such as chemical recycling, where chemical processes break down polymers into their basic components, allowing new plastic materials to be produced without loss of quality, and advanced recycling, where advances are being developed to separate and process different types of plastics more efficiently.

In terms of alternative materials, plastics made from renewable resources such as corn starch, cellulose and agricultural waste are being developed as alternatives to conventional plastics made from fossil fuels. In addition, bio-based plastics produced by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi offer a biodegradable alternative to traditional plastics.

The development of plastics that break down faster in the environment, either through biological processes or composting, reducing the lifetime of plastic waste and its environmental impact, is also an innovation to combat this problem.

Ocean clean-up technologies use underwater robots and floating barriers to reduce plastics in marine ecosystems.

GPS tracking technologies are also being developed to monitor the movement of plastic waste and identify pollution hotspots.

The plastic pollution scenario is complicated and will continue to evolve in the coming decades unless a collective effort is made to combat this serious environmental problem. Until the Global Plastics Treaty is finalised, the challenges and opportunities to work together against this enemy are crucial.

Supporting documents:

Links:

Scaling-up Ambition & Action on Plastic Pollution at INC
Multi-stakeholder Forum

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Reading Comprehension questions. Challenges ahead until The Global Plastics Treaty is finalised.

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What percentage of plastic waste goes to landfill?
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