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With global attention often drawn to climate crises like hurricanes and wildfires, the alarming rise in plastic Pollution tends to be overshadowed. However, the United Nations is stepping up with a new draft treaty to address this silent but pervasive threat to our planet.
Source: PBS NewsHour/YouTube
Every year, the world produces a staggering trillion pounds of plastic, a number that’s set to triple by 2060. Made primarily from fossil fuels, this plastic production not only exacerbates the climate crisis but also floods our environment with waste. Shockingly, only about 5% of plastics are recycled in the US, while most of them end up in landfills, incinerated, or loose in our natural environment. These plastics break down into microplastics, minuscule particles that have now infiltrated every nook and cranny of our globe, from the deepest oceans to our bodies.
The UN’s draft treaty offers a ray of hope. Still in the negotiation phase, this document outlines possible solutions and interventions to combat plastic Pollution. It proposes two primary objectives: either safeguarding human health and the environment from plastic pollution or eradicating plastic Pollution. These potential solutions range from halving single-use plastic production by 2050 to addressing the harmful chemicals often found in plastics.
However, the road to a finalized treaty is far from straightforward. As with many global initiatives, there are disagreements among nations on the level of ambition and approach. Some nations favor a comprehensive, binding treaty with strict targets, while others prefer a more voluntary approach. A parallel can be drawn with the Paris Agreement on Climate change, where nations set their targets, which has resulted in mixed outcomes.
The draft also touches on the challenges of microplastics, both those intentionally added, like in cosmetics, and those resulting from the breakdown of larger plastics, like bottles. While acknowledging the problem, the draft still has a long way to go in proposing tangible solutions for this complex issue.
In conclusion, while the draft treaty’s future remains uncertain, its very existence signifies global acknowledgment of the plastic Pollution problem. As negotiations continue, there’s hope for a comprehensive solution to protect both our planet and its inhabitants.
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