Plastic pollution has reached critical levels, threatening ecosystems, human health, and the planet's sustainability. As we mark the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day, stakeholders from governments, civil society, and the private sector are called upon to unite and take transformative action to combat this pressing crisis. World Environment Day is held annually on June 5th.This year, the annual event is hosted by Côte D'Ivoire, shedding light on the urgency of addressing plastic pollution and its interconnectedness with the vision of a sustainable global society and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
More than 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced worldwide each year, with a shocking 50 percent designed for single-use purposes. Alarming statistics reveal that less than 10 percent of this plastic is recycled, leading to an estimated 19-23 million tonnes ending up in our lakes, rivers, and seas annually. To put this into perspective, the weight of this plastic waste is equivalent to 2,200 Eiffel Towers combined, posing a severe threat to marine life, biodiversity, and our fragile ecosystems.
Furthermore, the insidious presence of microplastics, measuring up to 5mm in diameter, infiltrates our food, water, and air. Studies indicate that each person on Earth unknowingly consumes over 50,000 plastic particles per year, with even higher numbers for those who factor in inhalation. This sobering reality highlights the immediate need to address the detrimental impact of plastic pollution on human health and the environment.
The urgency to act is intensified by the fact that discarded or incinerated single-use plastics release harmful toxins into the environment, endangering both human health and biodiversity. From the highest mountain peaks to the deepest ocean floors, no ecosystem is spared from the consequences of our unsustainable consumption and waste management practices.
To tackle this crisis, it is imperative that governments, companies, and civil society stakeholders scale up their efforts and accelerate actions. World Environment Day serves as a pivotal moment to mobilize a global response that aligns with the vision of a sustainable society and the SDGs. SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production - stands as a guiding principle, urging nations and individuals to adopt sustainable practices, reduce waste generation, promote recycling, and foster responsible consumption patterns throughout the value chain.
This year's World Environment Day emphasizes the significance of collaboration among all segments of society to address plastic pollution. Governments must strengthen regulations and policies to promote sustainable waste management practices and encourage the development and adoption of eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics. Companies need to prioritize sustainable production and packaging, investing in innovative solutions that minimize plastic waste. Civil society plays a crucial role in raising awareness, advocating for change, and holding both governments and corporations accountable for their environmental commitments.
As the world faces imminent threats from climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation, the vision of a sustainable global society depends on our ability to address plastic pollution and other pressing issues. World Environment Day 2023 serves as a call to action, urging every individual to contribute to the collective effort of preserving our planet for future generations. By aligning with the SDGs and embracing sustainable practices, we can pave the way towards a more prosperous and resilient world, where humanity and nature thrive in harmony.
More information: https://www.worldenvironmentday.global