Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) LI Yong on the occasion of World Environment Day 2018 and in advance of World Oceans Day 2018: "Plastics have played an indispensable role in adding lightweight, hygienic, functional and aesthetic features to consumer products through a wide variety of industrial applications at low cost and with high durability. Plastics contributed and still contribute significantly to development."
However, an exponential increase in the use of single-use plastics has led to dramatic environmental pollution and marine litter. The international campaign “Beat Plastic Pollution” is calling for swift action to significantly reduce consumer products made of single-use plastics.
As the UN agency advocating circular economy, UNIDO has been proactive in encouraging its partners and beneficiaries to shift away from a linear flow of materials, leading to huge amounts of waste. UNIDO is promoting a move towards a model of maintaining the value of products and materials as high as possible. Resource efficient and cleaner production, product design without pollutants and for maximizing lifetime, efficient use of products, better packaging, reuse, remanufacture and recycling are ways supported by UNIDO to minimize all waste, including plastics.
Contrary to such approaches, single-use plastics are designed to lose value after one-time use. Unfortunately, such plastics can easily find their way into our oceans as marine litter. Such plastics should have no place in a society moving to a circular economy.
On World Environment Day and World Oceans Day 2018, we invite you to join UNIDO in taking action to reduce our environmental footprint. Let us start contributing to the elimination of single-use plastics by changes in our own behavior.
Let us choose ceramic or glass cups for hot and cold beverages at the workplace or at take-away corners. Let us choose reusable cutlery and avoid plastic ones. Let us bring and use our own bags for shopping. Let us commute by walking, by bicycle or public transport, and stay healthy. Let us increase the use of online conference tools to communicate with people across the world. I am committed to start with such small steps myself, whenever possible. A small change of behavior by each and every one of us will have a long-lasting impact. Combined efforts can help reduce plastic waste, our environmental footprint, and marine litter in our oceans on a global scale. Let’s beat plastic pollution.