Recently, the resumed session of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly adopted the resolution on ending plastic pollution (Draft), which was approved and signed by heads of state, environment ministers and other representatives from 175 countries. The resolution points out that an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee will be established to reach an internationally legally binding agreement by 2024, involving the design, production, recycling and treatment of plastic products. The United Nations Environment Programme said that the resolution will promote relevant parties to fundamentally change the way of producing, consuming and managing plastic waste. It is the most important international multilateral environmental resolution since the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The invention of plastics was once called "a masterpiece of mankind". Since the 19th century, plastics have been "expanding the territory", ranging from straw and head rope to automobiles and industrial equipment. Cheap and high-quality plastic products are everywhere. However, plastic not only brings convenience to people's life, but also poses global environmental challenges to mankind.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, global plastic production has soared from 2 million tons in 1950 to 348 million tons in 2017. OECD data show that less than 10% of plastics in the world are recycled. High yield and low recovery rate mean that more and more plastic waste enters the natural environment, threatening human health and global sustainable development. Data show that human beings have produced more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic so far, of which about 6.3 billion tons have become plastic waste. On average, a truck of plastic waste enters the ocean every minute.
How to make the plastic industry realize the rebirth of clean cycle, so as to end plastic pollution? The latest resolution adopted by the United Nations Environment assembly emphasizes the full life cycle management of plastics, takes into account the reuse and recycling of plastic products in the design stage, and focuses on the diversified treatment of plastic pollution.
As ESPON Bart Eide, President of the United Nations Environment assembly, pointed out, "if plastics are incorporated into the circular economy system, plastics can be recycled. It is time to issue a legally binding resolution to end the plastic pollution crisis." Through the strict management of plastic product design, production, recycling and treatment, human beings are expected to significantly reduce or even end plastic pollution.
In the production process, the concept of sustainable development is run through, and with the full help of technological innovation, we can find a balance between paying attention to environmental protection and realizing economic benefits;
In the aspect of consumption, encourage people to change their behavior and reduce the consumption of plastic products from the legal level, and gather the great energy to reduce the use of plastic products through every small change in consumption habits;
In the process of recycling, scientists and enterprises in some countries have begun to take action to improve the reuse rate of plastic waste by using degrading enzymes, making prefabricated slabs for paving roads, turning into rocket fuel or making plastic products again.
Plastic pollution is a global challenge. Ending plastic pollution requires global joint efforts. Managing the whole life cycle of plastic products in a more sustainable way is an important step in controlling plastic pollution. Achieving the goal of ending plastic pollution requires the sustained action of the international community.