World Environment Day is the UN’s most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.
“Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment Day 2018, is a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife and our own health.
Released today, a new report from UN Environment finds a surging momentum in global efforts to address plastic pollution. The first-of-its-kind accounting finds governments are increasing the pace of implementation and the scope of action to curb the use of single-use plastics.
In what is framed as the first comprehensive review of ‘state of plastics’, UN Environment has assembled experiences and assessments of the various measures and regulations to beat plastic pollution in a report: “Single-use Plastics: A roadmap for Sustainability.”
This global outlook, developed in cooperation with the Indian Government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, presents case studies from more than 60 countries. The report analyzes the complex relationships in our plastics economy and offers an approach to rethink how the world produces, uses and manages single-use plastics.
Among the recommendations are specific actions policy makers can take to improve waste management, promote eco-friendly alternatives, educate consumers, enable voluntary reduction strategies and successfully implement bans or levies on the use and sale of single-use plastics. The report was launched in New Delhi today by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim on the occasion of World Environment Day.
“The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable – with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution,” said Erik Solheim Head of UN Environment, in the report’s foreword. “Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it.”
Among the key findings, the report states that government levies and bans – where properly planned and enforced – have been among the most effective strategies to limit overuse of disposable plastic products. However, the report goes on to cite the fundamental need for broader cooperation from business and private sector stakeholders, offering a roadmap for upstream solutions, including extended producer responsibility and incentives for adoption of a more circular economy approach to plastic production and consumption.
The report recognizes that single-use plastic waste generation and waste management practices differ across regions. While no single measure against pollution will be equally effective everywhere, the authors outline 10 universal steps for policymakers to tackle the issue in their communities.
Under the theme: “Beat Plastic Pollution”, World Environment Day 2018 is issuing a call to action to individuals, governments, the public and the private sector to examine joint solutions to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife and our own health.
- This year alone, global manufacturers will produce an estimated 360 million tonnes.
- In the next 10-15 years global plastic production is projected to nearly double.
- Production is scheduled to reach 500 million tonnes by 2025 and a staggering 619 million tonnes by 2030.
- Avoiding the worst of these outcomes requires a complete rethinking of the way we produce, use and manage plastic.
- The most common single-use plastics found in the environment are in order of magnitude, cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, straws and stirrers, glass beverage bottles, other plastic bags, and foam take-away containers. .
- The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) estimated at 1.3 billion USD the economic impact of marine plastics to the tourism, fishing and shipping industries in that region alone.
- In Europe alone, the estimated costs for cleaning shores and beaches reaches €630 million per year (European Commission, 2015), and studies suggest that the annual economic damage of plastic to the world marine ecosystem is at least 13 billion USD (UNEP, 2014)
- Of the 24 African countries having introduced national bans on plastic bags, more than half (58%) have been implemented between 2014-2017
- Up to 5 trillion plastic bags are used each year
- 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year
- 17 million barrels of oil used on plastic production each year
- 1 million plastic bottles bought every minute
- 100,000 marine animals killed by plastics each year
- 100 years for plastic to degrade in the environment
- 90% of bottled water found to contain plastic particles
- 83% of tap water found to contain plastic particles
- 50% of consumer plastics are single use
- 10% of all human-generated waste is plastic
Taking Action: JPIC-PACC group planted several trees at the Rumah Pelangi Capuchin Conservation farm in Pontianak, Indonesia