The United Nations (U.N.) recently signed a document to stop plastic wastes in the ocean. The UN environment ministers will be meeting in Kenya to discuss more about this serious issue. However, the document is not something that is going to effect change immediately and for that reason many are upset about it. But the fact that this issue has been formulated into a signed document is seen by many as a milestone. China is a leading cause of plastics polluting the ocean with millions of mismanaged plastic wastes. One environment minister from Norway mentions that their goal is to aim for zero emission of marine litter. The question that remains is how long will it take to take action and when it does take action, will it be too late?
The sea isn’t just dealing with plastic wastes in the water, it’s being affected by many more threats. The sea right now has to deal with dead zones which are areas in the ocean with low oxygen, acidification and climate change, which do not seem to be improving. A lot of the problems there seems to be connected to the pollution within the water, whether it would be plastic or something else. If people expect things to get better, perhaps an effort can be made to stop contributing to the waste of plastics in the ocean while waiting for the U.N.to take action. The one problem that can be seen down the road is convincing people they should do something about the plastic waste and support funding for better technology to help combat it.
In my opinion,I believe that when all hands are on deck concerning plastic pollution, we will achieve more. If governments can bring in polices that would enforce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), It would go a long way in reducing production and usher in new funding and support for vibrant research in the area of plastics.
Over time we see changes in consumption patterns and culture. The value of protecting the planet from discarded plastic is more widely accepted than it used to be, and could become even more common in the future.
Changing our consumption demands, our economic priorities, and environmental expectations are absolutely key. That plastic bag tethered to a tree is only a symptom of a larger problem which, like the tree, has a deep and complex root system.
The modern economy is built on one-way production, transport and consumption. Changing consumption patterns can help reduce waste generation and enhance waste management, but in the long run we need to develop a circular economy based on renewable resources. The energy and materials the economy requires must be renewable. The collection of waste will need to be connected to a waste processing system that reuses all resources. Materials will be sorted and reprocessed for re-use. We are a long way from the technology needed for such an economy, but in the long run that is the solution to plastic and other forms of unmanaged waste.
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