World Environment Day 2023: Beat plastic pollution

World Environment Day 2023: Beat plastic pollution

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released the Beat Plastic Pollution Practical Guide, in line with the theme for World Environment Day 2023 on 5 June to focus on solutions to plastic pollution through the #BeatPlasticPollution campaign.

The 17-page guide presents the scale of the plastic pollution problem and how seven identified sectors can solve the problem  – individuals, non-government organizations/faith organizations/community groups, science and education organizations, governments, cities/towns/local authorities, finance, business and industry.

There is also information on how plastic pollution affects biodiversity, the climate crisis, and human health, and the sources of the plastic waste – mostly from packaging (the largest generator of single-use plastic waste at 36% of all plastic produced), manufacturing, building and construction, agriculture, fisheries, energy, oil and gas, textiles and fashion, travel and tourism, and transportation.

At the global level, some progress has been made. During the 5th session of the UNEP, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution adopted a historic resolution in March 2022 with all 193 UN member states agreeing to “develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment with the ambition to complete negotiations by end of 2024.” This year, the 2nd session of the INC takes place at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France from 29 May to 2 June, preceded by regional consultations.

The practical guide ends with the question what more needs to be done. While “consumer pressure is key, real action needs to come from companies, investors, lawmakers and governments. More progress is needed in reducing plastic production and consumption; transforming the whole value chain; efficient, transparent, and agile legislation, and more effective monitoring systems to identify plastic sources, scale and fate while shifting to circular approaches. There is no one solution, but many that must happen simultaneously and immediately.”

Addressing plastic pollution is a big challenge, but one that must be take on as it “requires a systemic change, with actions across the life cycle that address its root causes rather than its symptoms and transitioning to circular approaches and plastic alternatives is critical.”

Please see also the UNEP short video How can we beat plastic pollution?

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