• Tue. May 24th, 2022

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175 countries agree to first-of-its-kind plastic waste treaty

The proliferation of plastic has grown astronomically, from more than 2 million tons produced in 1950 to nearly 400 million tons produced in 2017, according to the U.N.

More than 12 million tons of plastic waste flow into the world’s oceans each year, the intergovernmental organization said, adding that that figure could triple by 2040.

A 2021 assessment by the U.N. Environment Program estimated that less than 10 percent of the world’s plastic has been recycled.

“Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic,” Espen Barth Eide, president of the U.N. Environment Assembly’s fifth session and Norway’s minister for climate and the environment, said in a statement. “With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.”

April 24, 202103:43

Barth Eide acknowledged that the resolution occurred against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it “shows multilateral cooperation at its best.”

The U.N. said the treaty will not only curb the amount of plastic pollution, but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing the material, since plastics are made from fossil fuels.

Nik Sekhran, chief conservation officer at the World Wildlife Fund, applauded the development and called it a “historic agreement.”

“As we strive toward securing a healthier future for people and the planet, today’s decision sets us on an ambitious mission to solve our plastic pollution crisis and to achieve a strong circular economy,” he said in a statement.

World leaders will now have until the end of 2024 to craft the treaty, including settling details on funding and collaboration.