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UN Reaches Global Agreement To End Single-use Plastics

Unanimously, 175 countries achieved the second most important environmental project after the Paris Agreement, to put an end to plastics. A Latin American country was the leader in this pact .

Garbage collector in an area with plastic pollution

Photo: Adobe Stock - tong2530

LatinAmerican Post | Brandon Martínez Salazar

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Leer en español: La ONU llega a un acuerdo global para ponerle fin a los plásticos de un solo uso

For decades the world has had to deal with the pollution that has been produced by single-use plastics. This material is derived from petroleum, which, due to its cheap production, is almost impossible to recycle. For this reason, of all the plastic that exists on the planet today, only 9% is recycled. Now, the problem deepens when an analysis is made within a timeline of what has happened. For example, by the year 1950, there was a total of two million tons of plastic in nature. Currently, that figure has risen to 461.1 million tons.

According to the OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in a recent report, 140 million tons are already dumped into water sources such as rivers, seas, and lakes around the world. If these facts went unnoticed, the outlook for 2040 would be double what is being seen today. Fortunately, the UN has finally managed to alleviate this situation, through an agreement between 175 countries, which will implement the elimination of plastic production.

What is the agreement that will end plastic?

Basically what is sought with this advance signed in Nairobi, Kenya, is that concrete and real plans begin to be set to reduce plastic pollution in natural ecosystems. These goals must be implemented through a legally binding agreement by the end of 2024; whose work should begin to be carried out from the second half of this year.

In a statement, Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), stated that this consensus "is the most important after the Paris Agreement in 2016" and, likewise, explained that it also ratifies progress against global warming. To meet the expectations of this agreement, it is essential that there be plans of action and cooperation between all countries to put an end to the problem.

Therefore, through multilateral cooperation, it establishes the need to offer future generations a planet free of this polluting material. On the other hand, Andersen also cataloged it as a triumph for the planet that all the countries have agreed on unanimously. While, for Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway and President of the United Nations Environment Assembly UNEA "This treaty has been robust to end plastic pollution, not to reduce it".

The financial mechanism for the execution of the Agreement

Within the resolution that was approved last Wednesday, it was also categorically established that a financial committee must be created to comply with the measures that will be developed from the signed agreement. For this reason, all countries will be committed to contributing to this legal instrument that should be reflected in different alternatives that allow dealing with the life cycle of plastics.

This means that the attention to the subject would go from the designs of the products in the industries and the use of recyclable materials. Finally, this international collaboration has to guarantee access to technology in the execution of the objectives. Otherwise, the plans will not be as desired.

Global-scale of the plastics problem and targets

As mentioned at the beginning, the current number of solid waste in nature is terrifying. This is an environmental catastrophe that is related to three essential problems: global warming, the loss of nature and pollution. Therefore, addressing these points is a requirement for humanity to continue to exist. So, the following data gives more clarity on the impact of plastic on the health and survival of living beings on earth:

  • 800 marine species ingest polluting solid waste or get entangled in it.
  • Every year about 11 million tons of plastics fall into the sea.
  • The open burning of plastics heavily pollutes the air.
  • Humans are affected in their fertility, hormones, metabolism and neurological functions due to pollution.

However, it is expected that through a circular economy it is possible to:

  • Reduce up to 80% of the amount of plastic that falls into the sea by 2040.
  • Reduce the production of virgin plastic by 55%.
  • Promote to the governments of the world-saving of 70,000 million dollars in the next 18 years.
  • Mitigate emissions of polluting gases into the atmosphere by 25%.
  • The creation of some 700,000 jobs in the southern countries of the planet.

Role of Latin America in this environmental advance

Peru was one of the leading countries in this historic event in the world against plastic since the Minister of the Environment of that country emphasized issues of environmental justice and circular economy to reduce all the problems derived from pollution in society and ecosystems. natural. In this way, Mariano Castro Vice Minister of Environmental Management of the Ministry of Environment of Peru said: “We appreciate the support received. We will promote a new agreement that prevents and reduces plastic pollution, that promotes the circular economy, that addresses the complete life cycle of plastics and reduces informality."

Also read: The environmental proposals of the candidates for the Presidency of Colombia

The foregoing marks an international benchmark of the will that the South American country has for the situation that the earth is experiencing. It must be remembered that this nation suffered a spill of eleven thousand barrels of oil on January 15, which left a great impact on a social and environmental level. Within this context, eleven thousand hectares were contaminated and an unprecedented damage was done to the biodiversity that composes it. In addition to the economic damage suffered by some communities due to the impact on marine resources.