There has been a lot of buzz around plastic pollution recently.
With help from David Attenborough and Blue Planet II we have become aware of the imminent dangers threatening our environment. The increased visibility of the problem has forced countries to start to take action in tackling plastic use. This year, World Environment Day on June 5th has chosen its theme as ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’, encouraging the world to come together to combat our problem with plastic pollution.
How much plastic pollution is there?
It is estimated that over 8 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since its creation. We now see a garbage truck worth of plastic being dumped into our oceans every minute. At this rate we are projected to have more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.
That is a lot of plastic.
What progress on plastic pollution has been made?
The end of 2017 saw almost 200 countries sign a U.N. resolution to eliminate plastic pollution from our oceans. At home, the UK released its 25-year plan for the environment which included pledging to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. The EU has gone further by introducing new regulations for member countries, with intentions to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030. The already-in-use plastic bag tax will be expanded to include all retailers in the UK, and microbeads have been banned in all cosmetic products. A start, but it is not enough.
What can you do to help end plastic pollution?
We need to rethink how we use plastic.
Individually, we can all take small strides to curb its use. Ditch single-use plastics by using reusable water bottles and coffee cups. Bring your own bag shopping. Only use plastic that is recyclable. But more is needed. The change needs to come from the top. Countries must enforce regulations that require plastic manufacturers to regulate its use. The UK, for its well-intentioned proposals, has failed to introduce any legislation that requires companies to change their current use of plastic. It is time to make yourself heard.
Be vocal with your support of plastic reducing measures and petition for more.
Force the Government to take drastic action. Support projects that are driving change and helping to clean up our planet. Organisations tackling plastic that you can follow include Plastic Pollution Coalition, Plastic Change and Break Free From Plastic. Speak with your wallet, and do not support companies that are not doing enough to tackle plastic waste. McDonald’s, Costa Coffee and Adidas have been pressured to address plastic waste. Make others follow. If enough of us speak up, and support our words with actions, then the powers that be will have to take notice. The global tide is shifting and we must ride this wave of change to end plastic pollution.
About the author
Alex Baker is a researcher at WMC covering areas relating to climate change and economic development. He is an Economics Graduate currently working and travelling throughout Europe and Asia.
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