Plastic pollution is a "threat to human life and human rights" and, in order to stem this problem, we have to overhaul how we produce, use and dispose of it, according to an international report released today.
Two-thirds of all plastic ever produced remains in the environment<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTIwNjE0Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDUwOTI0OH0.W8mcLg-IUCo9QoGZ_kMSQdbLxt3pjEggcx81MLAes0Y/img.png?width=762&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C0&height=692" id="e3a95" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c510f33c7708fc4696d327c5bc976562" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p> The report cites shocking statistics on plastic production, including data that shows plastic production has increased from 2 million metric tons in 1950 to 380 million metric tons in 2015. </p><p> Currently about 42 percent of plastic is designed for packaging, which is especially troubling because most plastic packaging is designed for single-use.</p><p> And the tons of plastic already produced is not going anywhere— "roughly two thirds of all plastic ever produced has been released into the environment and remain there in some form—as debris in the oceans, as micro- or nanoparticles in air and agricultural soils, as microfibers in water supplies, or as microparticles in the human body," the authors wrote. </p><p>"Plastic has now permeated our air, our soil, our water and our bodies, and the consequences cannot be ignored," said Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer of North America for international ocean advocacy organization Oceana.</p><p>"Companies cannot continue hiding behind waste-management solutions like recycling, when none of that will be enough unless they also dramatically reduce plastic use by using alternatives to single-use plastics," she added.</p><p><span></span>There has been momentum in recent years for plastic bans. A United Nations' December report found 66 percent of countries globally have put in place regulation to tackle plastic bags, for example. But the report found only eight countries had bans on microbeads.<br></p><p> "This report suggests more comprehensive regulatory approaches must be explored that will integrate the lifecycle of plastic products: from production to use, and distribution to disposal. Countries must seriously consider alternatives to plastics that are causing at least $8 billion of damages per year," said Celine Salcedo-La Viña, research associate at the World Resources Institute and one of the lead authors of the December report, in a statement about the UN's findings. </p><p> To help tackle the seemingly intractable problem, the new report recommends looking at the entire lifecycle of plastics; a stronger focus on the harmful additive chemicals; increased transparency about what's in plastics and how they're disposed; and putting human rights and human health at the core of any proposed solution. </p><p> The authors remain hopeful: Azoulay pointed to some recent progress on the issue, citing how quickly the European Union banned a series of single-use plastics, and a ban passed just last month in Berkeley, California, on disposable plastic food ware. </p><p> "We're seeing a level of awareness and mobilization that is unheard of, for any environmental issues," he said. </p><p> You can see the <a href="https://www.ciel.org/plasticandhealth/" target="_blank">full report here.</a> </p>
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