Plastics, like diamonds, last forever, celebs and experts warn

UN Environment | Jun 23, 2022 at 2:00 AM

Hollywood legend Pierce Brosnan has launched a video appeal drawing attention to plastic’s long lifespan and the need to manage its disposal in environmentally sound ways.

In the video Brosnan, star of James Bond, Mama Mia and the upcoming Black Adam,  highlights the work of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, a series of international agreements designed to protect people and the environment from pollution.

“Elements of plastic in the things we use, what we eat, even in the air we breathe, can stay around forever,” noted Brosnan in the video, released on 22 June.

The video is part of a bigger campaign titled Plastic is Forever… so it’s time to get clever about managing it! The push is designed to promote the environmentally sound management of plastic waste, millions of tonnes of which flow into the environment annually.

“Our campaign slogan was born out of the need to show that not all is bleak when it comes to global environmental governance,” said Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Secretariat. “We want to raise awareness of the need to manage plastic waste in a fun, engaging way that is accessible to people across the world”.

In the video, Brosnan is joined by his son, Paris, who is also an actor, photographer and environmental activist.

The Brosnans are not the only celebrities raising awareness around the Plastic is Forever campaign. Tennis player Dominic Thiem has also released a video on social media supporting the campaign. “Together we can change how we live in the world,” said Thiem while urging his fans to be more mindful of plastic waste.

Every minute the equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic is dumped into the ocean, and 83 per cent of tap water and 90 per cent of bottled water has been found to contain plastic. In 2020, plastic was detected in human placentas.

“The campaign highlights the almost infinite life cycle of plastic. A plastic bottle, for example, will take up to 450 years to decompose,” said Payet. “Even when it has decomposed it presents an environmental hazard as microplastics and nano plastics remain and get into our ecosystems and food supplies. There is an urgent need to better manage plastic waste”.

The Basel Convention was the first international treaty to provide for stricter controls in the transboundary movement of plastics. It will inform the implementation of the historic resolution to end plastic pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024, which was adopted during the fifth session of the United Nations Assembly (UNEA-5.2) earlier this year.

From 8 to 10 June the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions held the Plastics Forum. It included more than 20 side events, which were streamed on a 3D virtual platform. Some of the organizations involved were the United Nations Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Government of Norway, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, the European Investigation Agency and the International Pollutants Elimination Network.

The Plastics Forum also featured the announcement of the winners of the Plastic is Forever photo competition, the launch of the Plastic is Forever social media challenge, and a hackathon event.

The Plastic is Forever social media challenge uses gaming to involve the youth in the fight against plastic pollution. Launched on Facebook and Instagram the challenge has two versions, plastic in the sea and plastic on mountains. Gamers have to try and collect as much plastic waste as possible.

During the Plastic is Forever hackathon, innovators from across the world were asked to pitch ideas to the forum on prototypes that would help speed up research and development in the field of plastic waste management. The hackathon drew 65 entrants and was won by a three-member team from Saudi Arabia and Switzerland. The winning entry was a prototype to map trash hotspots around the world.

The Plastics Forum concluded with the projection of a light show on Geneva’s Palais des Nations. Plastic is Forever illuminations lasted for two days.