The European Union backed the call for a legally binding international agreement to reduce plastic pollution during a conference hosted by the United Nations in Geneva on Thursday (September 2).
A German official said around 75 nations already supported a draft resolution circulated at the meeting, but warned that it could take years for an agreement to take effect.
France’s Minister for Biodiversity Bérangere Abba said that if the world fails to act, there will be “more plastic in the oceans than fish” by 2050.
The UN Environment Program, which is hosting the conference, has said that the planet is “drowning in plastic pollution,” producing around 300 million tons of plastic waste each year.
Around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, around 60% of which ends up in landfills or nature.
Millions of tons end up in our oceans, with the debris killing over a million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals each year.
“Difficult to Predict”
More than 1000 representatives from 140 countries and numerous NGOs took part in the Geneva meeting.
The draft text presented on Thursday by Peru and Rwanda with the support of the European Union, its member states and seven other countries called for the establishment of an intergovernmental negotiating committee to draw up an agreement.
The text highlights the importance of microplastics – the tiny fragments that have been discovered in every ocean and even at the bottom of the world’s deepest trench.
The aim should be “to promote a circular economy and to address the entire life cycle of plastics from production to consumption and design to waste prevention, management and treatment”, says the draft text.
The proposed resolution is to be discussed next year at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi.
The declaration already has firm support from 25 countries and a preliminary commitment from 50 more, said German environmental officer Jochen Flasbarth at a press conference.
“Twenty-five plus 50 before we even start is pretty good,” he said.
“It is very difficult to predict how long the negotiations will take. I think it will be a few years, not months, for a convention to come into force.