WWF Issues Call to Ban Single Use Plastics

Governments have been urged by the World Wildlife Fund to enact a global ban on what it describes as high-risk and pointless single-use plastics.

 Later this month, WWF and Eunomia will submit research on plastic pollution that demonstrates the viability of banning specific plastics from circulation at the UN plastic pollution treaty talks. The paper lists the most harmful plastics now used in the economy and environment and makes suggestions for how governments and businesses may get rid of, minimize, and manage them. These products include, among others, plastic cutlery, e-cigarettes, and cosmetics containing microplastics.

National efforts to regulate specific plastic products have not yet been successful. The WWF research offers a solution that divides plastic into two categories: Class I, which can be decreased in the short term, and Class II, which cannot. This helps close legal loopholes from past rules. The paper suggests banning Class I plastics everywhere. Through global management, recycling, and ethical disposal initiatives, Class II plastics would also be handled.

According to the WWF, banning the use of single-use plastics is the logical solution to the broad desire to move toward a circular economy.

Erin Simon, vice president and head of plastic waste and business at WWF-US, said: "With 86% of Americans in favor of switching from an economy that depends on single-use products to one that is truly circular, the message is clear: it's time to move away from problematic plastics." Despite the majority support for these improvements, single-use plastic usage is still on the rise, in large part because of lax regulations and growing petrochemical industry production, according to WWF.

Plastic pollution won't get any better without swift regulation. According to research, worldwide plastic production will double and ocean plastic pollution would quadruple by 2040 if the world continues on its current course. The majority of countries that use single-use plastics are middle- to high-income nations, and many of these nations lack the infrastructure necessary to handle the enormous amounts of plastic garbage that are expected to enter circulation in the upcoming years, according to Zaynab Sadan, the WWF's Plastics Policy Coordinator for Africa.

Due to its low cost and adaptability, plastic is still employed in a variety of industries, yet more than half of all plastic produced is used for transient reasons. Less than 10% of plastic gets recycled, despite efforts to do so for a material that takes hundreds of years to disintegrate. The EPA's new draft for tackling national plastic pollution in the U.S. is consistent with the WWF's proposal to remove specific plastic products from circulation globally. In order to totally remove some plastics from circulation, the WWF plan also directly addresses the underlying cause of plastic pollution.

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