13 December, Wednesday


UN members vow to tackle 'ocean Armageddon' plastic problem

Society

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United Nations members have committed to eradicating plastic waste from entering the world's seas in the face of an "ocean Armageddon" due to pollution.
 
Ministers at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, are set to seal the resolution on Wednesday.
 
Governments want to establish a global taskforce to advise nations and businesses on how to tackle plastic pollution, with eight million tons currently ending up in the sea each year.
 
Erik Solheim, UN environment head and UN undersecretary-general, called the issue "an ocean Armageddon".
 
He said: "We need to phase out what we don't need, make what we do need with better materials, and recycle all the plastics that we use.
 
"I'm very optimistic that in 20 years, we will see a much more circular economy."
 
During a discussion on how to tackle marine pollution, Nigerian environment minister Ibrahim Usman Jibril revealed how teams trying to clean up oil spills along the Nigerian coast had discovered huge amounts of plastic waste mixed in with the oil.
 
Dr Lisa Svensson, global director for Ocean UN Environment, told Sky News it is integral for humans to realise throwing plastic away means it will re-enter our eco-system as part of the food chain.
 
She said: "We have to stop the plastic coming out into the ocean so we have to change the way we use and produce plastic.
 
"This is why we have to work with the private sector, who are producing massive amounts of plastic, we need them to stop that."
 
She said the equivalent to an entire rubbish truck of plastics is emptied into the world's oceans every minute.
 
"We desperately have to do something urgent," she added. "There has to be governmental action and private sector action.
 
"We need to change the way our business models work. There needs to be voluntary commitment by individuals and civil society, driving the attention.
 
"We need a coalition of leading countries, businesses, individuals, foundations and media actors to get this massive movement going to make people realise we cannot continue to produce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean, destroys not only our food chain but destroys beaches and our tourist sector.
 
"Nobody wants to go to a beach where you're swimming in plastic."
 
The UN started the Clean Seas campaign this year, targeting industry to minimise plastic packaging and urging companies to redesign products.
 
The campaign also calls on consumers to change their disposable plastic habits.
 
As part of Clean Seas, the UN also has a boat, Turn the Tide on Plastic, participating in the Volvo Ocean Race.
 
Sky is also partnered with the boat as part of its Ocean Rescue campaign.
 
The UN resolution has no timetable and is not legally binding, after the US refused to agree to any internationally agreed goals.
 
However, ministers believe the resolution will force countries and businesses to pay more attention to the issue of tackling plastic pollution in the world's oceans.

Sky News

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