UN Releases 'Roadmap' for 80% Cut in Plastic Pollution by 2040

May 26, 2023

Global Plastic Materials Production by Region

Scientists warn that plastic pollution is harming the Earth. It's messing up the ground, oceans, and even the air. But the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) says the problem can be fixed if people really want to solve it. 

UNEP recently said the world can reduce plastic pollution by 80% in less than 20 years. But to do this, countries need to make big changes. The UNEP report came out before an important meeting in Paris on May 29.   

At the meeting, experts will start working on a plan to reduce plastic pollution. 

Inger Andersen is the UNEP executive director. She said that if the world could follow this plan, it would help heal the planet and make people’s lives better.

The plan asks governments and big companies to create a more "circular economy." This could be done by using technology that already exists. That includes the reuse and recycling of plastic. The plan also wants to replace plastic products with ones that can break down naturally. UNEP says that by using refillable bottles and programs that give money back for returns, the world could reduce plastic waste by one-third by 2040. 

UNEP also wants to make recycling programs bigger. This would help more plastic get reused. Now, only about 9% gets used again. It also wants to stop helping industries that use fossil fuels. Plastics are made from these types of fuels. If it becomes too expensive to make plastic, companies would have to look for other ways. 

The report also said that reducing plastic waste by 80% could get rid of half a billion tons of greenhouse gasses every year. It would also create many new jobs.  

Photo by Nick Fewings courtesy of Unsplash. 

Reflect: What are some practical steps you can take to reduce your plastic waste?

What is the main idea of the fifth paragraph? (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. The UNEP wants to end the use of fossil fuels.
b. The UNEP calls for the development of a circular economy.
c. The UNEP suggests using refillable bottles.
d. The UNEP thinks governments and big companies should do more.
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