THE Australian Marine Conservation Society and World Wide Fund for Nature Australia have welcomed Australia in its support for a global agreement to finally rid the world of plastic pollution.
An equivalent of a garbage truck’s worth of plastic enters the ocean every minute, and much of it lasts for centuries in marine environments.
Plastics campaign manager at AMCS Shane Cucow said, “We are on track to have more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.”
On Saturday, 11 September, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley released a statement announcing Australia had endorsed a global ministerial statement and a new Pacific Regional Declaration on the Prevention of Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution and its Impacts.
The Pacific Regional Declaration is urging all United Nations member states to support negotiations for a new binding global agreement for the eradication of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
The declaration states its grave concerns on the impact of plastic pollution, at each stage of its life cycle, on the enjoyment of certain human rights for current and future generations.
It believes these effects are due to a disregard for, or lack of adequate end-of-life management, as well as insufficient support for sustainable alternatives to plastics.
Continued production of and the unnecessary use of single-use plastic products, plus open burning and dumping of plastic waste contributes to the problem.
Support for a plastic pollution treaty has grown considerably from 70 countries in March to 110 countries today.
“We welcome Australia’s leadership in supporting a legally binding global agreement, with meaningful global targets for reducing plastic pollution and funding to help all nations big and small face the crisis,” Mr Cucow said.
“While voluntary initiatives have been helpful, and some states have taken action such as banning single-use plastics, overall, the action across the globe has been fragmented and slow.
“This is a global problem, and we are all responsible.
“It will require consistent and decisive action from all the nations of the world to clean up our oceans and save our wildlife from death by plastic.”
Mr Cucow added that while the declaration was welcome, Australia could go further and set an example for other nations.
“We urge the Australian government to show the world their commitment to a binding, effective global plastics treaty by co-sponsoring the draft resolution to begin negotiations in February 2022.”
WWF Australia’s No Plastics in Nature policy manager Kate Noble was pleased to see the Australian Government showing leadership and throwing its weight behind a global treaty to tackle pollution to help eliminate the flow of plastics into the environment.
“Around 130,000 tonnes of plastic leaks into our environment every year, where it frequently results in the serious injury and death of marine wildlife and breaks up into microplastics,” Ms Noble said.
A WWF petition calling for a global agreement to tackle plastic pollution has gained more than two million signatures, the largest ever response for a WWF worldwide petition.
“Australia should now take the next logical step towards a treaty by co-sponsoring the draft resolution that will be voted on by all UN member states in February 2022,” Ms Noble added.
“This would formally start the process of developing a binding treaty.”
New research for WWF by strategic consulting firm Dalberg Advisors puts the lifelong cost of plastics produced in 2019 at AU$5 trillion, more than the GDP of India.
“The costs of managing this global pollution crisis are astronomical,” Ms Noble said.