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Credit: smithore/Flickr

Opinion: Rethinking plastic production for a healthier future

Delegates meet to reshape the global approach to plastic pollution at the UN treaty talks, highlighting industry influence and warning of greenwashing.

Judith Enck and Pamela Miller write for Fortune.


In short:

  • The authors argue that the United Nations plastic treaty discussions in Ottawa need to steer clear of industry-promoted recycling myths and focus on substantive reductions in plastic production.
  • They criticize the plastics industry for promoting continued reliance on ineffective recycling methods that fail to address broader environmental and health concerns.
  • Global plastic output has surged, and unless robust international regulations are implemented, it is projected to double, exacerbating health and environmental crises.

Key quote:

"Instead of supporting cuts to plastic production, the U.S. has been mimicking the petrochemical and plastics industries’ talking points at the UN convenings, focusing on waste management and emphasizing failed plastics recycling and “circular” plastics."

— Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics and Pamela Miller, Alaska Community Action on Toxics.

Why this matters:

As the UN plastic treaty talks unfold, the authors urge focusing on reducing plastic production and eliminating harmful chemicals, not just for environmental sustainability but for global health and safety, particularly in vulnerable communities. Read more: Ending toxic threats to Alaska from plastics and petrochemicals.

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