The first U.N. Ocean Conference in five years ended recently in Lisbon, Portugal, with Secretary-General António Guterres calling for a global commitment by businesses, governments and individuals to do more to preserve and protect the planet’s seas.
But why aren’t governments meeting to discuss the agricultural plastic emergency?
According to a U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) report on plastics in agriculture, the world’s soil is likely more filled with plastic pollution than the oceans are.
The report says that “commonly used agricultural products, such as non-biodegradable plastic mulching films, greenhouse films and polymer-coated slow-release fertilizers, have a tendency to break down in the soil, leaving behind pieces of plastic ranging in size from large to microscopic. These pieces have unknown, yet potentially detrimental, implications for ecosystems and human health.”
One of the major milestones is the U.N. Plastic Treaty Roadmap drafted earlier this year. The effort, a first of its kind and titled “End plastic pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument” is expected to be made final by 2024. It focuses on the full lifecycle of plastic, including production, design and waste. The agreement, if enforced two years from now as legally binding, is expected to be a major blow to oil
companies that make plastic and prefer to steer the plastic conversation centered on waste instead of the original packaging contents.
“ We are producing twice as much plastic waste as we did 20 years ago, with the majority ending up in landfills, burned or leaking into the environment, and only 9% actually recycled. ”
Global brands should be focusing on the highest and best use of plastics in agricultural food production. We need alternatives, such as long lasting HDPE (high density polyethylene) solutions, for example. These help move farm ground away from microplastic leaching. Long-term solutions using better materials also cap farming expenses at the outset, which is attractive to a farmer’s bottom line and ultimately keeps the shelf prices of food stable.
According to a recent Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, we are producing twice as much plastic waste as we did 20 years ago, with the majority ending up in landfills, burned or leaking into the environment while only 9% is actually recycled. The report reveals how plastic pollution is growing rapidly with as recycling and waste management failing to keep up. The report is the first Global Plastics Outlook and argues that higher populations and subsequent global incomes are increasing the amount of global plastic being used and disposed as countries own policies can’t successfully slow leakage into the environment.
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