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Solving the plastic crisis is urgent. An estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans each year. That’s a garbage truck and a half of plastic every minute of every day. If we delay dramatic action by just five years, an additional 80 million metric tons of plastic will end up in the ocean by 2040 (250 Empire State Buildings worth of trash). Without action, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, by weight.
That won’t just mean more beached whales with stomachs full of plastic bags; the human consequences will be extreme, too. Healthy ocean ecosystems absorb CO2. A dead ocean has dire consequences for the climate. Plastic already has been found in the air, in the rain, in our bodies and in our food supply.
That’s why, in March, the Ocean Plastics Leadership Network, together with WWF and Greenpeace, led the first of four dialogue sessions. One hundred and forty organizations from 34 countries representing all the main stakeholders attended the two-day virtual event. The aim was to deepen understanding and build capacity for a Global Plastics Treaty.
With industry, government, activists and waste pickers given a seat at the table and an opportunity for constructive discussion, we were able to learn quite a bit.