Pollution from plastics almost as threatening as climate change

Pollution from plastics almost as threatening as climate change

With climate change an ongoing concern, The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has recently shifted their focus on the damage specifically from plastics that causes just as much harm globally.

According to their latest report, the EIA considers pollution from plastics to be a global emergency in need of a robust UN treaty with the threat from this type of pollution almost equivalent to climate change.

Plastic pollutes at each stage of its life cycle, from extraction to disposal, and poses one of the most serious emerging threats to ocean ecosystems.

Unprecedented growth in the production and use of plastics is triggering a global environmental crisis. Each year, at least eight million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean, an amount set to quadruple by 2050 (from 2017 levels) unless major reform is put in place. Over 800 species are known to have ingested or been entangled in marine plastic pollution, killing hundreds of thousands of animals every year. Up to 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans each year, and 51 trillion plastic particles are already present in the marine environment.

While the problem of plastics in our oceans has gained particular attention in recent years, the negative impacts extend beyond just the marine environment. Plastics also affect freshwater, climate change, soils, and public health with widespread environmental, economic, and social impacts.

Toxic chemicals from plastic have also now made their way into the human food chain, and are likely to increase the risk of cancer, obesity, and heart disease. The only way to fundamentally solve it is through action to significantly reduce plastic production and regulate the industry at multiple levels.

As per the EIA’s report it is increasingly clear that preventing plastic pollution will require a dedicated global framework that addresses the full lifecycle of plastics from production and design to waste prevention and management. The framework must build upon and complement existing initiatives while otherwise addressing the significant gaps that exist that currently prevent countries from eliminating plastic pollution and creating a safe circular economy for plastics.

The United Nations has identified three existential environmental threats – climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – and concluded that they must be addressed together.

The idea of a dedicated plastics treaty has been opposed by some nations in recent years. But more than 100 countries are said to favour a treaty being proposed at the next UN Environment Assembly in February and March 2022.

One of the initial ways to tackle the issue of plastic in Australia and globally is to look at greener alternatives.

Papyrus Australia is the developer of a world-first, sustainable technology that displaces plastic packaging by providing alternatives from banana fibre. A biproduct of banana production, banana palm trunks are an abundant waste product globally, with a world-wide production weight of 2.2 billion tonnes per year.

This sustainable technology company has established a zero-waste, chemical-free process of converting this globally available agri-waste into products. Not only does this reduce the creation of Methane, but it also creates products that are sustainable alternatives to plastic, forest wood and chemicals.

Papyrus Australia’s business is about sustainability and the promotion of a circular economy, whereby it creates a valuable product from waste materials that would otherwise negatively contribute to climate change and the deteriorating environment.