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Big business should pay to clean up plastic waste


     Plastic is destroying our oceans, yet big corporations are still being given money to produce cheap plastic. It’s time for polluters to pay for the damage they cause


 Plastic waste lines the shore of the Thames Estuary in Cliffe, Kent

(Source: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

     Millions of tonnes of plastics enter the oceans each year causing a series of problem, trapped turtles, dying birds and suffocating whales. The United Nations says that if current pollution rates continue, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050. Even though plastic is destroying our oceans, big corporations are being given money to produce cheap plastic. Taxpayers pay more than 90% of the cost of recycling, while huge subsidies are placed on fossil fuels, the major building block for plastic. This is unfair: we need to take bold action now.

     Corporations should pay for the damage they cause. Only then will they be forced to create environmentally friendly alternatives. Fossil fuel companies received subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.7tn) worldwide in 2015, China alone provided subsidies of $2.3tn. As plastic is made out of fossil fuels, these are effectively colossal plastic subsidies.

     Rather than being paid to pollute our waters, the polluters should pay for their plastic waste to be recycled. Currently that cost is covered by the taxpayer, but instead the cost of recycling should be part of the cost of the plastic itself - with the additional money being transferred to local governments to pay for recycling. The government should reward retailers who develop new sustainable ideas, and raise charges on packaging that is difficult to recycle. This would reduce the demand for deadly plastics among producers and retailers. 

     The government proposals fail to make manufacturers and retailers pay for the environmental and social costs of plastic. The government should change this to stop big corporations ruining our oceans.

     Unrecyclable plastic has left the oceans in a critical condition. We need radical action. France is aiming to use 100% recyclable plastic by 2025, and we should aim to match them. A ban on fish-killing unrecyclable plastics should be a priority. The retailer Iceland has just promised to scrap plastic packaging on all of its own-branded products within five years; other supermarkets should be required to do the same.

     We have an unconditional duty to protect the oceans for the sake of our children’s futures. If we want to save our turtles, birds and whales, we must take radical steps to tackle the plastic problem. This means incentivising business to reduce the use of plastic in favour of ustainable alternatives and banning unrecyclable plastic.

An Vi (The Guardian source)

(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition II-2018)

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