Plastic bag in ocean

WWF calls for UN treaty to tackle plastic pollution

Image credit: Dreamstime

A global treaty on combatting plastic pollution has the support of nearly 90 per cent of people, according to a new survey from WWF.

The poll, which was conducted by Ipsos and saw over 20,000 adults interviewed across 28 countries, also found that three quarters of people would support a ban on single-use plastics entirely.

Some 85 per cent of respondents want manufacturers and retailers to be held responsible for reducing, reusing and recycling plastic packaging. A system to partially incentivise this is already in place in the UK in the form of Packaging Recovery Notes, but that does extend globally.

Latin American countries lead the poll, with 93 per cent of the region’s respondents calling for a global plastics treaty, followed by respondents in Europe and the Asia Pacific region.

“We know people are extremely concerned about the growing plastic pollution crisis and in 2021, an estimated 140 million people globally took part in Plastic Free July, but individual action is not enough,” said Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, founder of the Plastic Free Foundation.

“There needs to be clear and ambitious mandates and targets that reframe our relationship with plastics so that people’s health and that of the environment are not at risk from plastic pollution. The survey is a clear call by people from all corners of the world that they want their governments to act now.”

Some three quarters of UN member states have now publicly expressed support for a global plastics treaty, WWF said.

Public awareness and concern around the crisis has gained strength as the problem of plastic overconsumption and pollution has grown exponentially. Modelling suggests that if trends in consumption rates continue, plastic waste generation will double and plastic leakage into the ocean triple by 2040, compared with 2016 levels.

The social, environmental and economic costs of plastic produced in 2019 alone are estimated to be at least US$3.7tr (£2.7tr) over its projected lifetime, according to WWF statistics.

“Our plastics crisis threatens to spiral out of control and it is high time for governments around the world to provide leadership,” said Marco Lambertini, director general, WWF International.

“People worldwide have made their views clear. The onus and opportunity is now on governments to adopt a global plastics treaty - one that is legally binding and establishes global rules and regulations that address the full lifecycle of plastic - so we can eliminate plastic pollution in the environment by 2030. We cannot afford anything less.”

Yesterday, scientists at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University confirmed they would be receiving funding from Innovate UK to investigate ways to increase the amount of recycled material that can be used in plastic drinks bottles - research which could have “significant long-term environmental benefits”.

In January this year, a UK government committee warned that a vile ‘cocktail’ of sewage, slurry and plastic was polluting rivers and putting public health and nature at risk.

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