Plastic bag floating in the ocean © naturepl.com / Sue Daly / WWF

Plastic bag floating in the ocean © naturepl.com / Sue Daly / WWF

Australia’s strengthened support for a global plastics treaty is a breakthrough

13 Sep 2021

Keywords
  • plastic
  • marine pollution
Australia’s support for a binding global agreement to address marine plastic pollution is a breakthrough, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia.

Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley has announced Australia’s endorsement of a global ministerial statement on the proposed agreement and a new Pacific Regional Declaration on the Prevention of Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution and its Impacts. The Pacific Declaration urges the international community to start work on a legally binding global agreement as soon as possible.

Support for a plastic pollution treaty has grown exponentially from fewer than 70 countries in March this year to more than 110 countries today.

A WWF petition calling for a global agreement to tackle plastic pollution has gained more than two million signatures – the largest response ever for a WWF worldwide petition.

“We’re pleased to see the Australian Government showing leadership and throwing its weight behind a global treaty to tackle pollution to help eliminate the flow of plastic into the environment,” said Kate Noble, WWF-Australia’s No Plastics in Nature Policy Manager.

“Around 130,000 tonnes of plastic leaks into our environment every year, where it frequently results in the serious injury and death of marine wildlife and breaks up into microplastics.

“The costs of managing this global pollution crisis are astronomical. New research by Dalberg for WWF put the lifelong cost of plastics produced in 2019 at AU$5 trillion, more than the GDP of India.

“Australia’s first ever Plastics Plan supported the idea of a treaty and this new announcement means the Government sees the importance of a comprehensive agreement incorporated into national laws. Australia should now take the next logical step towards a treaty by co-sponsoring the draft resolution that will be voted on by all UN member states in February next year. This would formally start the process of developing a binding treaty.”

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Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) with a plastic bag, Moore Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia © Troy Mayne / WWF

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