Over 1 million people demand global ban on single-use plastic at UN Oceans Conference

Updated 2017-06-07 10:32:09 Xinhua
People take photos of a salmon installation made of debris collected from the Pacific Coast beaches on the first day of the Ocean Conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on June 5, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

People take photos of a salmon installation made of debris collected from the Pacific Coast beaches on the first day of the Ocean Conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on June 5, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

A petition signed by more than 1 million people to phase out single use plastic worldwide within the next five years will be presented to UN Environment to support its Clean Seas campaign to end marine litter.

This comes as more than 20 countries have come forward to support the #CleanSeas campaign, which calls on governments, industry and citizens to end the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic and eliminate microplastics in cosmetics, both major sources of marine litter, by the year 2022, the UN Environment said in a press release Tuesday.

Head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim, said: "So far over 20 countries have committed to reducing their plastic waste."

However, "we need many more on board if we are to drastically reduce the 8 million tonnes of plastic already leaching into our oceans every year, causing havoc and endangering marine life," he said.

"I thank all one million of you who have signed today's petition, and I will be making sure countries understand people around the world want to turn the tide on this rubbish," he said.

Since #CleanSeas launched in February, major commitments from countries have been made including Indonesia committing to reduce its marine litter by 70 percent.

Kenya is set to introduce a plastic bag ban in September, and Sweden will announce a major new financial commitment for global action on the marine litter issue, the press release said.

UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador, Adrian Grenier, who is a major ocean advocate having set up the Lonely Whale Foundation, will formally open the Clean Seas Experience at the Oceans Conference, offering a virtual reality tour of the impact of plastic pollution on the sea.

Organizers hope that 1,000 delegates from government, private sector and civil society will visit the experience and make their own commitments to reduce marine litter.

The Clean Seas experience is supported by Dell, which has recently created the first commercial global ocean plastics supply chain. The company will be turning plastics collected from beaches, waterways and coastal areas into packaging for their products.

Statistics reveal that there are an estimated 350 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean and that by 2025 it is estimated that there will be 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish.

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