Pro-environment activists across Asia on Wednesday, September 21, urged governments and businesses to reduce global plastic production “to stop plastic pollution of every kind.”
The call was made during a demonstration coinciding with the 7th International Marine Debris Conference in Busan, South Korea.
“To stop plastic pollution, the global plastics treaty must address how to stop plastic production including its harmful toxic additives,” said Griffins Ochieng, executive director of the Centre for Environmental Justice And Development in Kenya.
“This addresses the problem at the root cause, not the symptoms,” he said.
The activists said over 99 percent of plastics are made of fossil fuels that are considered one of the largest contributors to climate change.
They said plastics emit greenhouse gasses throughout their life cycle — from extraction to manufacturing, transport, use, landfilling, recycling, and incineration.
“Fast moving consumer goods companies, such as Unilever, Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi, are prioritizing investments in false solutions that allow them to rely on single-use plastics,” said Satyarupa Shekhar, Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic.
Shekhar said these companies should “switch to delivering their products without using single-use plastics and hiding behind false solutions and false narratives.”
The activists lambasted developed countries that export plastic waste, “under the guise of recycling,” to countries across the Asia Pacific, Africa, and Latin America that lack the infrastructure to deal with the waste.”
“When countries are allowed to ship off plastic waste, there is no incentive to reduce plastic consumption and waste,” said Mageswari Sangaralimgam, Research Officer and Honorary Secretary of Sahabat Alam Malaysia.
“Even worse, export destinations, often less wealthy economies with weaker environmental regulations, become saddled with problems of imported plastic waste pollution and trafficking crimes,” said Sangaralimgam.
She said these practices continue, “there will be no end to the leakage of plastics into the ocean.” She urged countries to stop exporting plastic waste, adding that when countries are “forced to deal with our own waste, this will catalyze innovative and real solutions to end plastic pollution.”
“It is high time for businesses — from petrochemical companies to fast-moving consumer goods corporations — to join this revolution by reducing their plastic footprint,” said Miko Aliño of Break Free From Plastic.
“Reduction means putting a cap on plastic production and not misleading everyone with plastic offsets and silver-bullet fixes,” he said.