Plastic: it is the convenience – and scourge – of our Anthropocene era. Most of it lives in cities, and then landfills. Diplomats are now turning their collective attention to plastic pollution. Modeled on the 2015 Paris Agreement, developed in the city of the Eiffel Tower, the first stage of the UN initiative is assessment: how much plastic is being manufactured? With what chemicals? Who are the main players? What happens when plastic is discarded?
Plastic Facts and Figures:
Since its invention, 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced
Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. Most is in landfills
United States generates 287 pounds of plastic waste, per person, per year
During the pandemic, single-use plastic wrapping products for safety increased 19%
8 million metric tons of plastic enter global waters – each year (that is equivalent to a dump truck offloading every minute of every day
Microplastics are now found in the organs of fish
Microbeads and plastic fibers are found in 80% of the world’s tap water
Led by Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment, the UNEA-5 team will convene in Nairobi on 28 February 2022. Preparing for that meeting, we will next take a look the main manufacturers, and preview some innovations that may signal hope.
Birnbaum, Michael and Min Joo Kim. “Plastics production is skyrocketing. A new U.N. treaty effort could cap it. 8 February 2022. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/02/08/plastic-pollution-un-treaty
Ingilizian, Zara. “Waste-free consumption: 3 reasons why cities will lead.” 14 June 2019. World Economic Forum: Shaping the Future of Consumption. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/3-reasons-why-cities-can-stem-the-tide-of-the-plastic-crisis/
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “Our planet is drowning in plastic pollution – it’s time for change!” https://www.unep.org/interactive/beat-plastic-pollution
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Un