Global Goal and Commitments to End Plastic Pollution
Whereas, for the past 60 years, plastics production and use has dramatically increased, and the vast majority of plastic generated is not recovered at the end of its useful life.
Whereas, due to the lightweight character of many disposable plastics, they easily enter the environment by natural forces, such as wind.
Whereas, plastic is a useful material with myriad applications, but a non-renewable material that requires careful lifecycle management so that it does not degrade land, oceans, human health, and sustainable economies.
Whereas, between 60 and 80% of marine debris is derived from plastic products and enormous quantities of plastic are concentrated in the 5 largest gyres of our oceans, with known serious consequences for marine life and possible grave consequences for the food chain and human health.
Whereas, UNEP’s 2011 Year Book identified ocean plastic pollution as “persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic substances”, stating that: “Research indicates that tiny pieces of plastic are absorbing and concentrating from the seawater and sediments chemicals, from polychlorinated biphenols, PCBs, to the pesticide DDT. [...] Many of these pollutants, including PCBs, cause chronic health effects such as endocrine disruption, mutagenicity and carcinogenicity.”
Whereas, Plastic debris causes substantial economic impacts to coastal economies because of the high costs of removal and disposal, but cleaning this waste from watersheds, coastlines, and the nearshore seafloor is critical to prevent flooding, navigational hazards, detriment to the tourism industry, and ecological destruction.
Whereas, The Honolulu Strategy adopted at the Third Intergovernmental Review Meeting on the Implementation Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment form Land-Based Activities identified a priority goal of “Reduced amount and impact of land-based litter and solid waste introduced into the marine environment,” and noted that the Honolulu Strategy is a companion document to global, regional and national processes to address plastic waste source reduction.
Whereas, UNEP has called for use of instruments such as fees, fines, penalties, liability and compensation schemes, subsidies and incentives to address marine litter, which it describes as “one of the world’s most pervasive pollution problems impacting our oceans and waterways.”
Whereas, the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility and UNEP identified the need for prioritization of solutions that address the root cause of plastic pollution “production and consumption patterns, including the design and marketing of products internationally without appropriate consideration for their environmental persistence or ability to be recycled in the locations where sold.”
Wheareas, more than 100 presidents and prime ministers and thousands of other world leaders will gather in Rio de Janiero Brazil in June 2012 for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Earth Summit) and will be taking action to speed the transition to a green economy and sustainable future.
Whereas, the impacts of plastic pollution and the unsustainable production and consumption patterns that are the underlying causes of this problem must be addressed in the transition to a green economy and sustainable future.
We — countries, corporations, communities or civil society groups — hereby commit to contribute to the goal of ending plastic pollution in the marine environment within the next decade.
Specifically, given overwhelming evidence of the need for immediate action, we will immediately develop, publicize, and support specific time-bound measureable commitments to reduce plastic pollution, especially in the context of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment form Land-Based Activities. Such commitments could include regulatory controls, market incentives, extended producer responsibility policies for single-use plastics, collection and recycling infrastructure, efforts to change to individual consumption habits, and establishment of specific source reduction targets aimed at decreasing the production of plastic materials (especially single-use items) most likely to end up as plastic pollution in our ocean, rivers, and on land.
We further agree to submit these commitments to the Rio+20 compendium and to be held accountable for their implementation.