Are we really serious about saving planet Earth and ourselves?
Author: Marit Stinus-Cabugon
IT's too early to say whether the recently concluded first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee was a success in terms of laying the foundation for a meaningful international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution. After all, the timeline to come up with a treaty is two years. But we do not have to wait two years to reduce our own plastic footprint. In fact, by actively rejecting single-use plastic - the main culprit in plastic pollution - we not only prevent pollution we also send a message to treaty negotiators. Plastic pollution doesn't start with improper garbage disposal. It starts with the plastic itself. The Global South embraces incineration as the solution to the increasing volumes of waste, particularly plastics, that comes from growing affluence and the popularity of consumer goods, including food and beverages, packed, wrapped and served in single-use plastic. Majority of consumers seem indifferent to or ignorant about the problem posed by plastic. In fact, a lot of people even find a beverage served in a single-use cup Instagrammable. So incineration is heaven-sent, especially the so-called waste-to-energy plants. However, a global plastic treaty, if it will have any teeth, will work toward drastically reducing the volumes of plastic waste: some non-recyclable plastics will be taxed heavily, others will be banned outright. If incinerating single-use plastic after use in order to generate a few kilowatt hours of electricity sounds like the greatest invention since the wheel, it is because we until this moment haven't been paying for plastics true environmental cost: it's a fossil-fuel derived product full of toxic chemicals.