Marine litter and the challenge of sustainable consumption and production

Marine litter and the challenge of sustainable consumption and production
Plastics are part of modern life. But when not properly managed, they harm our health, biodiversity and ecosystem services. The problem of plastic pollution has been growing, and the costs mounting, particularly for the marine environment.

* In the last 50 years, plastic production has increased more than 22 times. Yet in 2015, only an estimated 9 per cent of plastics were recycled.
* Humanity produces 300 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, of which about 8 million ends up in the ocean
* For Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation countries, the estimated damage to fisheries and aquaculture, marine transport, shipbuilding and marine tourism from marine debris was USD 11.2 billion in 2015.
We have seen growing action, including bans on single-use plastic products. However, with investments of around USD 180 billion over the last decade in plastics production facilities, and COVID-19 causing a resurgence in single-use plastic products, we must work even harder and smarter. I would like to make four points on how to do this.

The first is that multilateralism and partnerships are crucial.

Marine litter is a pollutant without borders. We need a common approach to a common cause: the unsustainable consumption and production of plastic.

UNEP is involved in several partnerships including:

* The Global Partnership on Marine Litter, with over 200 members.
* The United Nations Environment Assembly, which will meet next year to advance action on marine litter, addressing plastic products pollution and other issues.
* The Science-Policy-Business Forum, which promotes green technology markets.
* The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which aligns over 450 institutions including governments and industry representing over 25% of the plastic packaging used globally behind concerted actions towards a circular plastics economy, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UNEP.

We need to use all of these vehicles, and more.

My second point, closely linked, is that industry must take more responsibility.

Industry is an important player in the partnerships I outlined above, bringing new tools and business models aimed at cutting unnecessary and problematic plastic use and keeping the plastic we need within the economy at its highest value. Industry needs to step up action across the whole value chain.

This includes the design of products and the sourcing of raw or secondary resources; the manufacture of products and services using new models; and its end use and cycling of resources back into the economy. You will hear about some of them today. But we need more, and we need transformative action. Business leaders need to acknowledge their dependence and impact on nature and commit to sustainability by taking bold actions across the whole life cycle suggested by these partnerships.

My third point is that we need to manage COVID-19 plastic waste.

The World Health Organization tells us that every month the world needs 89 million plastic medical masks, 76 million plastic examination masks and 1.6 million plastic protective goggles. Meanwhile, we have seen the halting or reversal of policies aimed at reducing single-use plastic products.

It doesn’t have to be this way: 125 scientists recently signed a statement saying that reusable shopping bags or packaging, can be used safely by employing basic hygiene. We must look hard at solutions, which have a significantly lower impact over the whole life cycle, and look at our solid waste management systems.

My fourth point is that we need to build back better in a coherent manner.

The SDGs, the Paris Agreement, the post-2020 biodiversity framework, and other processes are part of the same piece of work: protecting human health and prosperity. COVID-19 recovery packages need to invest in these processes. To give just one example, backing sustainable consumption and production will help across the board by cutting waste, emissions and pollution of natural environments.

Your engagement across all these areas is crucial to what we can achieve, including at the next UN Environment Assembly. I urge you to use today’s event, and the coming months, to identify and pursue every opportunity suggested by these and other initiatives and partnerships to tackle marine litter and plastic pollution.


Government seeks to have a more limited university entrance exam this autumn السابق

Government seeks to have a more limited university entrance exam this autumn

دراسة تظهر انتقال فيروس كورونا عبر نوع معيّن من الأقنعة التالي

دراسة تظهر انتقال فيروس كورونا عبر نوع معيّن من الأقنعة

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