More than 200 nations promise to stop ocean plastic waste
Original post on Reuters
Over 200 countries just signed a United Nations resolution in Nairobi, Kenya to eliminate plastic waste in the world’s oceans. The resolution is an important step towards establishing a legally binding treaty that would deal with the plastic pollution problem afflicting the world’s oceans. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), there will be more plastic by weight in the world’s oceans than fish by 2050 if current trends continue.
Every year, over eight million tonnes of plastic waste are dumped into the ocean, endangering sea life and entering the human food chain, UNEP added.
According to Norway’s environment minister, Vidar Helgesen, Norway has seen the evidence of the damage the pollution causes first hand.
“We found microplastics inside mussels, which is something we like to eat,” Helgesen added. “In January this year, a fairly rare species of whale was stranded on a beach because of exhaustion and they simply had to kill it. In its tummy they found 30 plastic bags,” he said, in a recent interview with Reuters. But he has hope in the resolution. “We now have an agreement to explore a legally binding instrument and other measures and that will be done at the international level over the next 18 months.”
China is the biggest producer of plastic waste but has started making efforts to cut down, UNEP head Erik Solheim said.
“If there is one nation changing at the moment more than anyone else, it’s China … the speed and determination of the government to change is enormous,” said Solheim.
Solheim eventually wants to see governments ban and redesign some packaging.
“Let’s abolish products that we do not need … if you go to tourist places like Bali, a huge amount of the plastic picked from the oceans are actually straws.”
Under the resolution, countries agreed to start monitoring the amount of plastic they put into the ocean.
“While this is not a treaty, significant progress is being made … 39 governments announced new commitments to reduce the amount of plastic going into the sea,” said the chief of public advocacy at UNEP, Sam Barrat.
“Chile, Oman, Sri Lanka and South Africa today … announced measures including plastic bag bans, new marine reserves and drives to increase recycling.”