The UN has adopted a resolution aimed at ending plastic pollution. On Wednesday, March 2, 2022, the UN negotiators agreed to a framework to stop the global plastic problem before it’s too late. They hope to adopt a legally binding treaty as the first step toward a sustainable world.
The resolution happened during the U.N. Environment Assembly, which took place in Nairobi. More than 150 countries were represented, including the United States, which is currently responsible for the most plastic waste in the world. The resolution calls to create a committee of the involved governments to make the treaty’s details by the end of 2024.
If the draft is approved, it will be a significant setback for oil and chemical companies that make plastic and constantly try to move the conversation to waste instead of plastic its awful impact on the environment.
We’ve known that plastic is an issue we need to solve as soon as possible and environmental leaders have been warning about plastic pollution for years. In 2019 alone, the world produced 353 million tons of plastic. Millions of tons end up in the oceans each year, which is devastating to marine life, and in turn, our planet.
This plan has been years in the making. The idea first surfaced at the 2016 U.N. Environment Assembly but was focused on marine plastic. This new draft resolution, “End plastic pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument,” focuses on all plastic and will target all phases of the plastic life cycle, including design, production, and waste management.
The draft also suggests that the possible treaty should promote the sustainable design of plastic packaging so that it can be recycled or reused, as single-use plastic is a massive part of the problem.
The negotiating committee is now in charge of examining plastic production and developing ways to help bring the treaty to fruition. They will also find ways to finance the new treaty and examine the harmful health impact plastic pollution has already caused.
The UN resolution stated, “The high and rapidly increasing levels of plastic pollution represent a serious environmental problem on a global scale,” and, “the urgent need to strengthen global coordination, cooperation, and governance to take immediate actions toward the long-term elimination of plastic pollution.”
While many countries have already begun their own programs to impede plastic pollution, many countries haven’t. This UN agreement will be the most united international effort to curb plastic pollution yet.
Obtaining the desired resolution from the treaty won’t be a simple task. The negotiating committee has many specifications to move through in just over two years, but it is doable.
The resolution is a historical moment, but it is only the first step to ending the devastating plastic pollution.
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