News ID: 188252
Published: 0939 GMT February 24, 2017

UN declares war on ocean plastic

UN declares war on ocean plastic

Available data is enough for the United Nations to literally declare war on oceans plastic: More than eight million tons of leaks into their waters each year – equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic every minute, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems.

In fact, the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on February 23 launched an unprecedented global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter: Micro-plastics in cosmetics and the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic by the year 2022, Ipsnews reported.

Launched at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, Indonesia, the #CleanSeas campaign urges governments to pass plastic reduction policies; targeting industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products; and calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits — before irreversible damage is done to the seas.

Erik Solheim, UNEP’s executive director, said, “It is past time that we tackle the plastic problem that blights our oceans. Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables. We’ve stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse. It must stop.”

Throughout the year, the #CleanSeas campaign will be announcing ambitious measures by countries and businesses to eliminate micro-plastics from personal care products, ban or tax single-use bags, and dramatically reduce other disposable plastic items.

The #CleanSeas campaign is a global movement targeting governments, industry and consumers to urgently reduce the production and excessive use of plastic that is polluting the earth’s oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health.

The UN environment body aims to transform all spheres of change — habits, practices, standards and policies around the globe to dramatically reduce marine litter and the harm it causes.

So far, ten countries have already joined the campaign with far-reaching pledges to turn the plastic tide: Belgium, Costa Rica, France, Grenada, Indonesia, Norway, Panama, Saint Lucia, Sierra Leone and Uruguay.

Indonesia has committed to slash its marine litter by a massive 70 percent by 2025; Uruguay will tax single-use plastic bags later this year. Costa Rica will take measures to dramatically reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education.

And Vidar Helgesen, minister of climate and the environment of Norway, said: “Keeping our seas clean and our marine life safe from plastic is a matter of urgency for Norway. Marine plastic litter is a rapidly increasing threat to marine life, seafood safety and negatively affects the lives of people in coastal areas all around the world. Our oceans cannot wait any longer.”

Eneida de León, minister of housing, territorial planning and environment of Uruguay, underlined: “Our goal is to discourage the use of plastic bags through regulations, give an alternative for workers in the waste sector, and develop education plans regarding the impact of the use of plastic bags on our environment…”

According to estimates, at the rate we are dumping items such as plastic bottles, bags and cups after a single use, by 2050 oceans will carry more plastic than fish and an estimated 99 percent of seabirds will have ingested plastic.

Major announcements are expected during The Ocean Conference in New York at the UN Headquarters June 5-9, and the December UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.

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