World Environment Day 2023

World Environment Day 2023 serves as a crucial reminder of the significance of individuals’ actions in combating plastic pollution. The measures being undertaken by governments and businesses to address this issue are a direct result of these actions. It is high time to accelerate these efforts and transition towards a circular economy, leaving no room for plastic pollution. There needs to be a systems change to address the causes of plastic pollution, combining reducing problematic and unnecessary plastic use with a market transformation towards circularity in plastics. This can be achieved by accelerating three key shifts – reuse, recycle, and reorient and diversify – and actions to deal with the legacy of plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution represents a global crisis that profoundly affects ecosystems, biodiversity, the climate, and human well-being. If no new and effective regulations are implemented, plastic production is expected to double within the next two decades, leading to a threefold increase in plastic waste entering the oceans by 2040. This mounting problem imposes an unacceptable burden on future generations.

Some facts about plastic pollution:

  • One million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. 
  • Over 430 million tonnes of plastic are produced worldwide annualy, with half of it designed for single-use purposes.  
  • Shockingly, less than 10 percent of this plastic is recycled.  
  • An estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up polluting lakes, rivers, and oceans.  
  • Current commitments made by governments and industry will only reduce the annual volume of plastic flowing into the ocean by 8 per cent by 2040.  
  • The social and economic costs of plastic pollution reach up to US$600 billion per year. 
  • Microplastics, which are minuscule plastic particles up to 5mm in size, contaminate our food, water, and air. It is estimated that each person consumes more than 50,000 plastic particles per year, and even more if inhalation is considered.  

The improper disposal or incineration of single-use plastics poses severe threats to human health, biodiversity, and every ecosystem, spanning from mountaintops to the ocean floor. 

Considering the available scientific knowledge and solutions to combat this crisis, governments, companies, and other stakeholders must elevate their efforts and take swift action. This World Environment Day assumes great significance in mobilizing transformative action from every corner of the globe. The Beat Plastic Pollution Practical Guide by the United Nations provides some helpful tips about ending the plastic crisis.

Host Country 2023

Each year, World Environment Day is hosted by a different country in which official celebrations take place. The host country for 2023 is Côte d’Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire has banned the use of plastic bags since 2014, supporting a shift to reusable packaging. The country’s largest city, Abidjan, has also become a hub for start-ups looking to beat plastic pollution. This year’s World Environment Day will be supported by the Government of the Netherlands, a member of the High Ambition Coalition calling for a strong and ambitious international legally binding instrument to combat plastic pollution. 

For more information about World Environment Day 2023, visit the global website: 

Photo credit: Freepik