[READ] World Environment Day

June 5, 2023

Together For A Systemic Transformation Towards a Plastic-Free Future

The Asia Pacific Network of Environment Defenders joins the global community in commemorating World Environment Day, a crucial occasion to raise further awareness of the environmental crisis plaguing our planet. This year, the prevalent issue of the plastic crisis takes center stage amidst the negotiations for the first legally binding treaty to address the issue. Today, we stand united in our commitment to address its growing environmental and human rights threat. Furthermore, we advocate for a genuine, inclusive, and scientific Global Plastics Treaty that addresses the crisis’s root cause: the activities of the fossil fuel industry, which accumulates super profits from global plastic production with minimal accountability. 

The global plastic industry is reaching alarming levels of production and consumption, translating to more greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and pollution. In 2019, plastics contributed 1.8 billion tonnes of GHGs, wherein a vast majority came from its production and conversion from fossil fuels. A 2022 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicated that plastic production increased “230 fold” from 2 million tonnes (Mt) in 1950 to 460 Mt in 2019, which consequently increased plastic pollution to an unprecedented volume of 400 million tonnes of plastic waste each year. Aside from its emissions, it also adversely affects ecosystems, wildlife, and human health, ranging from the continuous dumping of plastics in rivers and oceans that traps and chokes aquatic species to the burning of plastics in landfills, further toxifying our atmosphere. Furthermore, a new issue from years of research has emerged where microplastics linger in our food and water systems and atmosphere, poised to bring about more complications, further exacerbating our efforts to attain environmental and social justice. Therefore, addressing and promoting greater awareness of the plastic crisis’s root cause and compounding effects must be emphasized, especially in developing nations, as they show the heaviest reliance on plastics. 

We, therefore, call upon individuals, organizations, and governments to take decisive action to address the plastic crisis. Governments must implement and enforce policies to heavily regulate plastic production, usage, and disposal. Furthermore, we urge corporations to adopt sustainable practices, reduce plastic packaging, and embrace eco-friendly alternatives to attain a sustainable global supply chain. In this regard, we also emphasize the need for a genuine and scientifically grounded Global Plastic Treaty unhindered by the influence of fossil fuel lobbyists who misconstrue the actual situation of the global plastic industry to satisfy their profit-centered interests. A genuine treaty that directly addresses and regulates the activities of the fossil fuel industry would provide a framework to effectively tackle plastic pollution, protect our communities and ecosystems from further degradation, and pave the way for a sustainable and thriving future.

To this end, we reaffirm our commitment to being environmental human rights defenders that seek to transform a society that values and protects our natural resources to fulfill our human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Our collective efforts can bring about the change we urgently need; let us seize this opportunity to make a difference, leaving a legacy of genuine environmental and human rights stewardship and ensuring the well-being of the current and future generations.