World Environment Day 2018 – Beat Plastic Pollution

World Environment Day 2018 – Beat Plastic Pollution

Today, 5th June 2018, marks World Environment Day, the UN’s most important day for encouraging environmental awareness and protection. The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is "Beat Plastic Pollution”.

There has been an upsurge in attention on plastic pollution in recent years with governments and individuals around the world committing to reducing plastic waste and pollution. This year’s theme encourages everyone to reduce their own plastic use and change the negative effects plastic pollution has on the environment, wildlife and our health.

This year the day is hosted by India, one of the world’s most rapidly growing populations where plastic use could pose a serious threat to the world. India is a leading country in plastic reduction innovations with unprecedented commitment to the cause.

The key message of today is that to beat plastic pollution we need to transform our approach to designing, producing and using plastic.

Global plastic pollution is a large scale issue, for example: 5 trillion plastic bags are used each year, 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans each year, 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute and 83% of tap water is found to contain plastic particles.

Plastic pollution is compounded by the fact that 50% of all consumer plastic is single use and plastic takes 100 years to degrade in the environment. Over the next 10-15 years plastic production is projected to double.

Through strong policies and encouraging a circular design model and economy governments can curb plastic production and the use of single use plastics.

Similarly, the private sector must innovate and invest in more sustainable designs.

Although governments and private sector organisations do have a major role to play in transforming our use of plastic, its production and its design, individuals also have a key role. For example, not using plastic straws and cutlery; cleaning beaches; using fabric or paper shopping bags; and rethinking purchases in supermarkets all have a significant impact on reducing plastic consumption.

António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General has urged everyone:

“Refuse what you can’t re-use"

UN Environment are using World Environmental Day 2018 to call on governments, private sector and individuals to act and is focusing on four key areas: reducing single use plastics, improving waste management, phasing out micro plastics and promoting research into alternatives.


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Image credit: UN Environment

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