UN Begins Ambitious Treaty to End Plastic Pollution

On a High Note: UN Begins Ambitious Treaty to End Plastic Pollution

The UN Environment Assembly took an important initial step towards reducing plastic waste, unanimously voting to develop a treaty to end plastic pollution, a long term process to rally the world through a new legal framework. This ambitious treaty mirrors the Montreal Protocol, which gradually removed ozone-depleting substances from use. The head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has said it is the most important multilateral environmental deal since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Plastic is a huge contributor to both climate change and the destruction of marine ecosystems. Plus, very little plastic actually gets recycled. A new report released last week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that only 9% of the 353 million tons of plastic produced in 2019 was recycled into new material -- the rest was either burned, put in landfills, or "mismanaged."

World leaders have until 2024 to help shape the treaty, deciding which elements will be legally binding and how it would be financed.

WWF’s chief conservation officer, Nik Sekhran, said in a statement: "In the next two years, we must work to ensure this treaty reaches its full potential. We are committed to ending plastic pollution and to working with governments, businesses, and civil society to meet the commitments laid out in this impressive framework."

UNEP: Global Plastic Pollution Agreement - A historic moment, March 2, 2022.

The Story of Stuff Project: The Story of Plastic, April 21, 2021.

Vox: Why 99% of ocean plastic pollution is "missing", April 27, 2021.

UN: Plastic bricks in Kenya – Nzambi Matee – Young Champion of the Earth 2020, April 10, 2021.