Tackling plastic pollution

Global figures: ‘UK government must put global plastics treaty on G7 agenda’

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 27 May 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Global figures have today (27 May) called on the UK government to make tackling the plastics crisis a priority at the G7 Summit in June.

Writing in an open letter, TV presenter Chris Packham joined Nestlé, the Co-op and Aldi, alongside a raft of parliamentarians and NGOs, in urging the government to place a global plastics treaty on the summit’s agenda.

The letter says only a globally aligned approach will tackle plastic pollution, and that it must therefore be a priority at the summit.

The summit is set to take place in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, 11-13 June.

Action on plastics

More than 70 governments worldwide have expressed support for such a treaty, and the group believes the summit represents an opportunity for the government to introduce it. 

Written by global solutions organisation A Plastic Planet, the letter warns plastic pollution will never be overcome without a unified and consistent approach.

‘One man’s trash is another man’s problem. Only a globally aligned and binding strategy will stop the forecast increase in plastic production and the inevitable pollution. 

‘With governments around the world keen to join forces to stop this toxic material from polluting our children’s future, now is the time to step up the pace. We need to accelerate real action. 

‘The members involved in the G7 Summit have shown they can drive powerful change, as seen with the Paris Climate Agreement, and they can do the same for plastic pollution. If the Government wants to be a world leader in tackling plastic, it must put a global plastics treaty on the agenda.’

SIAN SUTHERLAND
Co-founder, A Plastic Planet

Plastic pollution in the pandemic

Currently some 300 million tonnes of plastic waste continues to be produced every year, and less than 10% of all plastic has ever been recycled.

The rest is sent to landfill, incinerated or ends up polluting the planet for centuries.

The Breaking the Plastic Wave report from Systemiq and The Pew Foundation forecasts a trebling in plastic production by 2040. It states that all current voluntary commitments from global governments and industry would only achieve a 7% reduction in ocean pollution.

The letter also notes the pandemic’s contribution to plastic pollution, with mountains of single-use PPE being found dumped in the environment.

In just two months one billion items of PPE were handed out in the UK, while globally three million face masks – the majority of which contain plastic – are thrown away every minute. 

With the members of the G7 credited with leading the way to secure the Paris Climate Agreement, the letter calls for a similar treaty to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution.

Support for a plastics treaty

Television presenter Liz Bonnin backed the letter alongside confectionary giant Nestlé UK & Ireland’s Head of Sustainability Dr Emma Keller and Aldi’s National Corporate Responsibility Manager Hollie Clark. 

The letter was also signed by Iceland Foods managing director Richard Walker, The Co-operative Group’s environment manager Iain Ferguson and Christina Dixon of the Environmental Investigation Agency. 
 
Leading campaigners supporting the calls include Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage; Mark Spalding, president of The Ocean Foundation and Dee Caffari, sailing legend and ocean advocate.

Lorraine Platt, co-founder of Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation; Fidra director Catherine Gunby; Nadine Jenkins from the UK Green Building Council and Ecosurety CEO Will Ghali all gave their support. 

The letter attracted cross-party backing from parliamentarians including Labour’s Geraint Davies MP and Mick Whitley MP, the Liberal Democrat’s Christine Jardine MP, and the Alba Party’s Kenny MacAskill MP. 

Supporters backing the letter believe a globally unified approach will accelerate solutions to many of the issues which are exacerbating the plastics crisis. 

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