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UN develops plan to cut plastic waste by 80% by 2040

Two weeks before the international summit in Paris, the UN organization published its research on policy solutions to address the plastic trash epidemic.

Using current technology and significant policy changes, countries can cut plastic pollution by 80% by 2040, according to a new analysis from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Two weeks before nations meet in Paris for a second round of discussions to draw a worldwide treaty aimed at eliminating plastic waste, the UN group, with its headquarters in Kenya, presented its analysis of policy solutions to address the plastic waste challenge.

The paper focuses on three key market changes that must occur to establish a “circular” economy that keeps manufactured goods in use for as long as possible: reuse, recycling, and a shift away from plastic packaging towards packaging made of other materials.

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“If we follow this roadmap, including in negotiations on the plastic pollution deal, we can deliver major economic, social, and environmental wins,” remarked UNEP executive director Inger Andersen.

From May 29 to June 2, treaty negotiations known as INC2 will take place. These discussions would yield important information for the first draught of the treaty, which must be completed before the third round of negotiations in Kenya in November.

According to UNEP, government support of reuse initiatives like deposit return programs or refillable bottle systems could reduce plastic waste by 30% by 2040.

Additionally, it claims that substituting biodegradable materials for items like plastic wrap and sachets could result in a further 17% drop by 2025, provided recycling “becomes a more stable and profitable venture” and fossil fuel subsidies are eliminated.

Different nations have adopted various strategies to combat plastic waste. Certain major plastic-producing nations, including Saudi Arabia and the United States, prefer a system of national strategies.

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Norway, Rwanda, New Zealand, the European Union, and others have joined forces to form the “High Ambition Coalition,” which has called for a top-down strategy where global targets are set to minimize the creation of virgin plastic and end fossil fuel subsidies, among other things.

Some activists claimed that the UNEP plan failed to address the core causes of the pollution issue.

“A treaty that does not cap and reduce plastic production will fail to deliver what the people need, justice demands, and the planet requires,” stated Angel Pago, the campaign’s director for Greenpeace on plastics.