The United Nations has launched a "global plastic platform" to fight plastic wastes worldwide.
Announced during a conference on the sidelines of the U.N.'s General Assembly, hosted jointly by the U.N. Environment and the European Commission, the platform aims to encourage new commitments to reduce plastic pollution and explore innovative ways to change the habits of design, production, consumption and disposal of plastics around the world.
The aim is to provide support to countries and cities with ambitious environmental commitments, by facilitating the sharing of experiences and the establishment of new policies.
“[It] is exactly the kind of initiative we need to bring countries together in the fight against millions of tonnes of plastics that end up in our oceans each year,” Eric Solheim, head of U.N. Environment, said during the Sept. 25 session in New York.
“No one can solve the problem of plastic pollution alone, but together we will fuel global change,” he added.
Also addressing the session, European Commission's First Vice President Frans Timmermans presented the EU Plastics Strategy and legal proposals to tackle single use plastics as a gold standard, inviting government and industry panelists to work together to find solutions for transition to a circular plastics economy.
“One of the most politically-charged issues that has caught the attention of the world population… Everyone sees that we have a problem with plastics and everyone knows we need to solve it and its urgent,” said Timmermans in is address to the UN session.
“If we don't do anything about it, plastics will suffocate our oceans. We find microplastics in every drinking water and in almost every being. Our oceans are clogging up and the marine life is suffering. We need to do something about it,” he added.
Timmermans said it was inspiring to see that the plastic waste problem was no longer an issue only for trailblazers and that it has now also been picked up by politics, society, industry and NGOs.
“This is one of those issues that, even if everyone is on the same page, we still need regulation to make sure that we head in the right direction,” he added.
According to an EC press release Sept. 26, the EU plastics strategy received strong endorsement from U.N. Environment, the president of the UN General Assembly and EU member states' speakers.
Adopted in January, the Europe-wide strategy calls for transforming product design, production, use and recycling within the EU and involves investment opportunities and jobs within the sector.
Under the new EU plans, all plastic packaging on the EU market must be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics will be restricted.
In May, the EC detailed a draft legislative proposal to ban ‘single-use' plastics, including non-recyclable plastic items such as straws and balloon sticks as alternatives already exist in the market.