Nations Around The World Trying To Reach Agreement To Reduce Plastic Waste 

According to an official from the United Nations, 170 countries are currently negotiating a deal for a global treaty that would cut plastic waste, while environmentalists are weary of the plastic industry’s ability to change for the health of our planet.

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Negotiators from 170 countries around the world are currently attempting to finalize a deal for a global treater aiming to cut plastic waste significantly. According to an official from the United Nations, however, environmentalists are skeptical about how involved the plastic industry itself will be while accommodating the deal.

Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Program, stated that negotiators see “a clear path to landing an ambitious deal” when it comes to reducing plastic pollution around the world. 

“The work, however, is far from over. The plastic pollution crisis continues to engulf the world, and we have just a few months left before the end of year deadline agreed upon in 2022,” she said. 

Steven Trent, the chief executive of the Environmental Justice Foundation, stated that one of the biggest things needed to reduce plastic waste is a global limit on the production of new plastic, according to NPR

“This process must begin with overall production reduction, immediately phasing out single-use plastics, recognizing that recycling has not worked and will not.” 

Plastic is derived from fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles negotiators have faced with this new deal is that major oil and natural gas producing nations, such as Russia, have been avoiding the negotiations to protect their future profits. The United States is also the top producer of oil and gas globally and has the world’s largest economy, which gives America a major say in environmental negotiations in general. 

Carroll Muffett, the chief executive of the Center for International Environmental Law, stated that negotiators from America haven’t been willing to work towards a world of cut plastic production, and have instead emphasized programs like recycling. 

“The United States needs to stop pretending to be a leader and own the failure it has created here,” she said according to NPR

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said in a statement to NPR that “so-called downstream measures like recycling and waste management on their own won’t solve the problem of plastic pollution, and that the country is looking for ways to reduce demand for new plastic.” 

Erin Simon, head of plastic waste and business at the World Wildlife Fund, says the “U.S. and a lot of other countries are showing more willingness to try to compromise.”

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“I saw countries brainstorming. I saw them trying to come up with creative solutions to meet everybody’s needs as best as possible. I saw them conceding on things. It’s the messy part of the process that you want to see.”

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The State Department stated that in order for the agreement to be fully effective, every country needs to support it, including the nations that are contributing the most fossil fuel emissions and plastic waste. 

More than 50 nations agreed that they want the deal to reduce the production of plastic. French officials said the “Group of Seven (G7) wealthy countries, which includes the U.S., is committed to reducing the overall production.”

“The drumbeat to reduce plastic production is growing from countries worldwide. More and more leaders are waking up to what the science and our lived experiences tell us: plastic is pollution, and we need to stop it where it starts,” Ana Rocha, GAIA’s director of global plastics policy, said in a statement. 

“The outcome of these talks is of critical importance to countries and communities around the world, and it is vital to expose and confront the role of corporations whose agendas are fundamentally in conflict with the global public interest,” Delphine Lévi Alvarès, global petrochemical campaign manager at the Center for International Environmental Law, said in a statement.

“Our industry welcomes an open process and actively seeks compromise through these negotiations because we want to see attainable environmental goals and are committed to collaboration to get it done,” Matt Seaholm, chief executive of the Plastics Industry Association,  said in a statement to NPR.