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Earth Day 2024: Saving the planet from plastic pollution

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World Earth Day, observed annually on April 22, is dedicated to conserving the natural resources of the planet and seeking sustainable solutions to the challenges brought about by growth and development.

This year’s theme, “Planet vs Plastics,” focuses on the environmental degradation and harm caused to food and marine ecosystems due widespread use of plastics.

The global environmental movement, EARTHDAY.ORG, has issued a call for a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040. To achieve this target, it has outlined the following four goals:

(1) promoting awareness of the damage caused by plastics to human, animal, and all biodiversity health, and demanding more research

(2) rapidly phasing out all single use plastics by 2030 and achieving this phase out commitment in the United Nations Treaty on Plastic Pollution in 2024

(3) demanding policies ending the scourge of fast fashion and the vast amount of plastic it produces and uses

(4) investing in innovative technologies and materials to build a plastic-free world.

Plastics cause environmental degradation

Plastic pollution directly affects the livelihoods, food production capabilities, and social well-being of millions of people. It can alter habitats and disrupt natural processes, reducing ecosystems’ ability to adapt to climate change.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, around 14 million tons of plastics enter the marine ecosystem every year, comprising roughly 80 per cent of all marine debris.

A recent survey conducted by the Greenpeace International shows that 8 out of 10 people globally support reducing plastic production.

In March 2022, the UN Environment Assembly adopted a historic resolution to draft a global plastics treaty with an aim to reduce plastic pollution, including ocean pollution and microplastics, across the entire plastic life-cycle.

In 2023, the United Nations observed the first-ever Zero Waste Day with the objective of promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns, supporting the societal shift towards circularity, and raising awareness about the contribution of zero-waste initiatives to the advancement of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development.

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