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Monday December 11, 2017

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UN commits to stop ocean plastic waste

The world population is living, working, vacationing, increasingly conglomerating along the coasts, and standing on the front row of the greatest, most unprecedented, plastic waste tide ever faced. Nations have agreed that the world needs to completely stop plastic waste from entering the oceans. A simple definition could be: any of a group of synthetic or natural organic materials that may be shaped when soft and then hardened, including many types of resins, resinoids, polymers, cellulose derivatives, casein materials, and proteins: used in place of other materials, as glass, wood, and metals, in construction and decoration, for making many articles, as coatings, and, drawn into filaments, for weaving. They are often known by trademark names, as Bakelite, Vinylite, or Lucite.

A stronger motion was rejected after the US would not agree to any specific, internationally agreed goals. Under the proposal, governments would establish an international taskforce to advise on combating what the UN's oceans chief has described as a planetary crisis.

For more than 50 years, global production and consumption of plastics have continued to rise. An estimated 300 million tons of plastics were produced in 2015, confirming and upward trend over the past years, according to a new report by the World Economics Forum, released at Davos in January 2016. In 2008, our global plastic consumption worldwide has been estimated at 260 million tons, and, according to a 2012 report by Global Industry Analysts, plastic consumption is to reach 297.5 million tons by the end of 2015.

Published in the journal Science in February 2015, a study conducted by a scientific working group at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), quantified the input of plastic waste from land into the ocean. The results: every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. It’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline. So the cumulative input for 2025 would be nearly 20 times the 8 million metric tons estimate – 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world!

From the whale, sea lions, and birds to the microscopic organisms called zooplankton, plastic has been, and is, greatly affecting marine life on shore and off shore. In a 2006 report, Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, Greenpeace stated that at least 267 different animal species are known to have suffered from entanglement and ingestion of plastic debris. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fish.

The UN's spokesman Sam Barratt told BBC News: "Of course we would have liked to have gone further, but this meeting's made real progress. Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s environment minister, a leading voice in the talks, told BBC News: "Business is listening to markets and seeing how marine litter is a growing popular concern.

Ministers say the problem will not be solved without business, but green groups point out that some firms in the plastics industry have been lobbying against restrictions for decades.

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