People or plastic?

John Hocevar
Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024

At this pivotal juncture, everything we need to end the plastic crisis is still on the table. We cannot afford for this meeting to be another failure, where low-ambition countries and industry interests hijack the negotiations and thwart substantive progress. At this penultimate round, the fate of the treaty hangs in the balance, and we must hold decision-makers accountable to deliver solutions that match the scale of the crisis we face.

Plastic recycling, once thought to be the answer to plastic pollution, is now debunked as little more than an industry scam. Less than 9.0 per cent of plastic produced globally gets recycled, while the industry continues to churn out more plastics annually and is set on tripling plastic production by 2050.

So, at this decisive moment, we must ask ourselves: Is the plastic industry’s profit-driven version of ‘convenience’ worth the sacrifice of our health? Are we willing to mortgage the future of children for the fleeting ease offered by the billions of tons of single-use plastics the industry produces? Is it worth risking our lives for single-use and corporate profits?

The answer is clear; the time for half-measures is over. We must seize this moment to turn the tide on plastic pollution and safeguard our planet for this and future generations. The clock is ticking, and we refuse to be silenced. We refuse to have any more mothers face the prospect of their unborn children being exposed to toxic chemicals in their placenta. We refuse to normalize climate chaos – floods, heatwaves, fires, and storms – driving us out of our homes. We refuse to have to bury any more of our loved ones from cancer and other diseases caused by toxic plastic chemicals.

The Global Plastics Treaty stands as our beacon of hope. But to deliver on its mandate to break free from the deadly cycle of runaway plastic production, it must begin with bold targets: reducing plastic production by at least 75 per cent by 2040; ensuring a just transition away from virgin production and toward a low-carbon, zero-waste economy; eliminating single-use plastics; and prioritizing sustainable livelihoods, empowering workers, and championing Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The treaty must also be rooted in a human rights-based approach that not only prioritizes human health and justice but also ensures fair representation for those disproportionately affected by the plastic pollution crisis. Above all, to be truly effective, the Global Plastics Treaty must create binding global rules that apply to all countries rather than a voluntary global agreement where governments can choose whether or not to take action.

Right now, millions of people around the world are demanding solutions to this global crisis. As we stand on the precipice of change, President Joe Biden must choose – people or plastic. If the US continues to support only those measures that have already been adopted in federal law, the treaty will not be successful. We call on Biden to show true leadership and take a stand for a strong Plastics Treaty that protects our health, our communities, and the planet. We call on him to heed the voices of the people and embark on a transformative journey toward a plastic-free future for generations to come.

Excerpted: ‘Biden Must Choose – People or Plastic’. Courtesy: