G20 members strike deal to reduce plastic waste causing ocean pollution

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G20 Summit sets initiative to clean oceans

Environment and energy ministers from G20 nations agreed to band together to reduce the deadly amount of plastic that is polluting the world’s oceans and killing marine life.

According to an Independent report, delegates met in Karuizawa, Japan earlier this month and drafted a “voluntary framework for reducing plastic litter, which includes strategies designed to assist developing countries.” Furthermore, the cooperating countries agreed to report their progress on the initiative.

The G20 Deal

Attendees at the G20 meeting agreed nations must take voluntary action to combat the life-threatening problem of marine plastic pollution.

“Marine litter, especially marine plastic litter and microplastics, is a matter requiring urgent action given its adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihoods, and industries including fisheries, tourism, and shipping, and potentially on human health,” said a post-meeting statement reported by Japan Today.

In the critical environmental initiative, members must “share best practices, promote innovation, and boost scientific monitoring and analytical methodologies.”

Swapping information will undoubtedly highlight efforts that work to solve this pressing global issue. Some countries, like New Zealand, have already banned single-use plastic shopping bags and other countries are charging shoppers a usage fee per bag.

G20 delegates have not yet revealed any specific details of the proposed plastic reduction framework. However, at least one attendee observed the urgency of the situation.

Hiroaki Odachi of Greenpeace Japan reportedly described the deal as “the first step towards resolving the issue.”

“But given the critical situation of ocean pollution with plastics, it is urgently necessary to set up legally binding action plans with clear timelines and goals,” he added.

A Deadly Global Crisis

Odachi is right. Ocean pollution is already at catastrophic levels. Specifically, 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the ocean each year from coastal regions. In the U.K. alone, 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away every year. These straws, in turn, are killing turtles.

Oher sea creatures are dying from malnutrition because they are filling their bellies with microplastic particles. Sadly, swallowing this garbage leaves no room for life-sustaining food. Plus, harmful chemicals found in plastics can leak into the ocean and contaminate fish. Unfortunately, humans who eat fish that ingested these toxins can also face health risks.

Marine biologists and researchers across the globe have recognized the problem for years, and it seems to be getting worse.

Last month, a United States explorer broke the record for making the deepest ever dive. The diver, Victor Vescovo, descended to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. What did he find among the sea creatures on the seafloor? He found a plastic bag and candy wrappers.

The fact that this discovery probably isn’t surprising makes the problem even more devastating.

Supporting the Cause

For the G20 deal to succeed, cities, businesses, and people must also commit to helping reduce plastic waste. In one amazing effort, a group of 633 scuba divers reportedly set a Guinness World Record for the largest underwater cleanup. Notably, the crew picked up over 1,600 pounds of lead fishing weights alone from the ocean floor in Florida.

Thankfully, people don’t have to set records to support the cause. Simple ways to reduce plastic waste include recycling, drinking water from a reusable tumbler instead of a single-use plastic water bottle, and using a stainless-steel straw instead of a plastic one.

Overall, with more nations and citizens getting onboard to fight climate change, the G20 initiative to reduce plastic waste in the ocean marks another positive step toward a global effort in protecting the planet for future generations.