On World Environment Day, marked on the 5th of June, the UN Environment Programme launched the latest policy document outlining action to tackle plastic pollution caused by single-use items. Our Chairman Dominic Hogg was one of the peer reviewers for the new report.
The report, Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability, outlines a roadmap of steps that policymakers, businesses and individuals can take to help tackle plastic pollution caused by single-use items. It was commissioned by the UN Environment Programme alongside the Indian government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Compiling case studies from over 60 different countries, the report examines the problems that single-use plastics cause, from the impact on the environment to the more subtle negative impacts on the economy and our health. The report then goes on to suggest the ways that countries, businesses and individuals can act to minimise problems caused by single use plastic items. Recommendations in the roadmap include improvement of waste management systems, voluntary reduction strategies for governments and industry to implement, promotion of eco-friendly alternatives and investment in communication campaigns that raise social awareness.
In his foreword to the report, Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said:
“The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable – with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution.”
India were the first to take the initiative: at the launch of the report, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the country’s goal to eliminate single-use plastics by 2020.
The launch of the report on World Environment Day, alongside India’s immediate public commitment to eliminating single-use plastics, is the latest action in the global change in attitudes towards single-use plastic. In recent weeks governments and corporations alike have committed to assessing how they can better manage plastic as a resource. Recent movements have included: five of the seven G7 countries signing an agreement to reduce plastic levels in the oceans, IKEA announcing plans to phase out single-use plastic both in their restaurants and across their products, and American Express committing to reducing its single-plastic use, as well as rolling out a credit card made from recycled marine plastic.