175 countries agree to find a “cure” for plastic pollution

This Wednesday, March 2, 2022, heads of state, environment ministers and representatives of 175 countries agreed to end plastic pollution by adopting a landmark resolution. This resolution was adopted after three days of negotiations at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in Nairobi, Kenya.

As Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program explains:

“This is the most important multilateral environmental agreement since the Paris agreement. It is insurance for this generation and future generations. †

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Program

The adopted resolution should make it possible to achieve a legally binding international agreement by the end of 2024 that will cover the entire life cycle of plastic, i.e. from design to disposal through the different stages of production.

For Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, this future agreement provides: “an opportunity to really make a difference, an opportunity that once again demonstrates the value of multilateralism”

Plastic pollution, a true epidemic

Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Climate and Environment in Norway, explains:

“Plastic pollution has become an epidemic. With today’s resolution, we are officially on our way to finding a cure. †

Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Climate and Environment in Norway

In 2017, the global plastics industry was valued at $522.6 billion, with a projected capacity to double again by 2040. In 1950, plastic pollution accounted for 2 million tons of waste. By 2019, that number had risen to 353 million. [1]

Exposure to plastic is a scourge to human health, air pollution and also biodiversity, especially to marine species in the event of ingestion, entanglement or contamination.

Every year 11 million tons of plastic waste flows into the marine environment. A figure that could triple by 2040, according to the United Nations.

Photo: Shutterstock

Levers to combat plastic pollution

The United Nations is putting forward several levers to combat this scourge, in particular the fight against single-use plastics and the development of the circular economy to reduce the production of virgin plastic.

The ambition is announced for the UN: “Reduce the volume of plastic that ends up in the oceans by more than 80%, save governments $70 billion, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, and create 700,000 additional jobs” by 2040. [2]

Good news, in these turbulent times it would have been a shame to miss it.

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