Opinion: Global Plastic Treaty is Humanity’s Last Hope of Integrity to Fight Plastic Pollution

Close to 2,500 representatives of different countries and economic stakeholders have assembled in Uraguay for the first time as part of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1). The congregation is one last hope that humanity still has the desire and integrity to fight plastic pollution.

The intention is simple; develop an international legal instrument that shall be binding in global action against plastic pollution.

The landmark occasion to tailor the first ever ‘global plastic treaty’ is result of a resolution the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2022.

Global treaty on Plastic

Image: United Nations

Passed as an ambitious intention to end global plastic pollution, the UN Environment Assembly agreement is described as revolutionary and historic. The accord is billed by experts as the most significant green resolution ever since the Paris Climate Conference in 2015.

As countries and stakeholders meeting in Uruguay negotiate terms of the global treaty on plastic, the looming plastic threatens the environment and economies and we are compelled to look for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Plastic pollution is a ubiquitous predicament from the ocean to the mountain top. The crises threaten existence of marine life and would soon lurk on human survival, if it were to go unabated. Disposed plastics reach water bodies and are consumed by fish and marine animals while microplastics consumed in foods and drinks are amassing in human blood, lungs, and even breast milk.

Creating a circular plastic economy, which can end plastic pollution is thus critical for both the environment and existence of species. This agreement – slated to come into effect in 2024 – will be legally binding internationally and address the full lifecycle of plastic, instead of only treating plastic waste.

Nations, companies, and businesses are at the forefront of making a bigger change, however, as repeatedly said; each one of us has a part to play in helping the world transition to a circular plastic economy.

A meaningful global action to curb plastic pollution and intention to build a new plastic economy is of little significance if we as consumers cannot reduce interest in plastic. It is morally feasible to get up one day and boycott plastic, but that is not possible until the economy has a conscious reversal.

If you confront plastic in all walks of life: from the hot coffee cup you sip on early morning to the slab of ham you carry home wrapped in a cling film for dinner, there is no way out. This scenario is just a fragment of realism in most countries where use of plastic and resulting pollution has reached paramount scale.

A wake-up call for a new international treaty to address plastic crisis will give the industry a chance to regain stride and reverse commitment from creation to realization.

We are hopeful, the plastic problem will be addressed by UN negotiations of the treaty that will immediately limit the use of plastic production. The new plastic economy will affect the informal sector in various developing and underdeveloped nations, but if the world has to transition, sacrifices will be made. The collateral damage could be averted if the parallel economies can pitch in for the cause of reversal.

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