By Madeleine Muzdakis on March 16, 2022
There is a general consensus that the nations of the world must come together if there is any remaining chance to avoid climate disaster. While this may seem impossible and unrealistic, it has happened before. In 1987, the Montreal Protocolwas ratified by all 198 UN member nations in a shockingly united effort to combat the then-expanding hole in the ozone layer. The treaty is today considered one of the most successful environmental resolutions ever. Now, 35 years later, the world has another promising environmental agreement—a UN treaty to solve the plastic waste crisis.
In the first week of March 2022, the UN Environmental Assembly met in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the problem of plastic waste—9.2 billion metric tons of plastics are estimated to have been produced between 1950 and 2017; seven billion metric tons are now trash; 75% of this waste clogs landfills, our oceans, and forests. Everyone has seen the pictures of sea animals trapped in soda rings, but everything from microplastics to standard grocery bags can harm ecosystems. Additionally, producing plastic—which uses petroleum and a lot of energy—leaves a massive carbon footprint. The burden of waste is not shared equally—wealthy nations consume more plastic, while poorer nations receive plastic waste. […]