G7 Youth calls for intensifying the international battle against the plastic soup

From 19 to 21 September, the environmental ministers from the G7 countries will come together in Halifax, Canada. They will meet to discuss a sustainable future. One of the subjects on the agenda is to further work on the Oceans Plastics Charter, adopted at the G7 top last June in Ottawa. Of the G7 countries, the USA and Japan have not signed this charter.

Any measures that the G7 discusses and implements have a great impact on the generations to come. The G7 is advised by Youth 7 (Y7), a delegation that represents the youth of the G7 member states. What are the Y7’s recommendations to the environmental ministers who will meet on the Oceans Plastics Charter?

The Y7’s recently published recommendations stress the need for the G7 to take legally binding measures to tackle the causes of the plastic soup crisis. It needs to be far more rigorous than the Oceans Plastics Charter. One example is that not the suggested 55% of all plastic packaging should be recycled in 2030, but 85% of all plastic should be recycled in 2025. The emphasis should be on reducing plastic production while alternative products must not depend on greater use of fossil fuels. The Oceans Plastics Charter currently places the emphasis on recycling and recovering. The Y7 however, believes that the G7 should explicitly reduce the waste stream and that we should be zero plastic waste in 2025.

The Y7’s statement also emphasises three other measures:

  • Putting the onus of recycling on manufacturers so that manufacturers take their products back and are responsible for their recycling;
  • A complete ban on single use plastics;
  • A complete ban on microplastics in cosmetics and toiletries.

These too must be attained before 2025. Young people are the future, but they will only have a future if the seats of power in the most important world economies take the right decisions now.

Also read: The G7’s Ocean Plastics Charter

Photo/logo Julia Grandfield

G7’s Ocean Plastics Charter

Amsterdam, June 14, 2018 — The plastic soup is high up on the international agenda. The recent G7 summit in Ottawa ended in an Ocean Plastics Charter. Of the G7 members, the U.S. and Japan have not signed the document. Before the charter had even been published, there were already criticisms of it not being sufficient to avert the plastic crisis.

Although one of the points of action was a “significant reduction of unnecessary single-use plastic”, no binding reduction targets have been agreed upon and the overall focus of the document lies on the recycling and “recovery” of plastic.

The catch is the latter word. In addition to the recycling and reuse, plastic waste needs to be “recovered”. Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and Breakfreefromplastic (BFFP) emphasize that “recovery” is simply a euphemism for the burning of plastic waste. The burning of plastic goes hand in hand with toxic air pollution and does not prevent the increasing use of plastic.

The overall objective of the Charter is cooperation with the industry so that by 2030, all plastic packaging is composed of at least 55% recycled plastic and is reused, in addition to 100 percent of all plastics in 2040 being “recovered”.  Worded in this way, cooperation with the industry seems to already be underway.

Last month, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced “ambitious targets“: all plastic packaging must be made out of recycled plastic, recycled itself, and reclaimed by 2040. With this, the way ahead points towards the continued unlimited production of plastic. We remember that, in 2016, the ACC announced that the US chemical industry would invest $146 billion into 264 new plastic plants by 2023.

Jennifer Morgan, director of Greenpeace International states: “It’s time for the world’s largest economies to recognize that we cannot simply recycle our way out of this problem.