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CSR: Will global UN pact be enough to curb plastic pollution?

Plastic pollution along the Indian Ocean
Discarded plastic clutters pristine land, floats in huge masses in oceans and rivers and entangles wildlife, sometimes with deadly results.
An agreement on tracking thousands of types of plastic waste emerged at the end of a two-week meeting of United Nations-backed conventions on plastic waste and toxic, hazardous chemicals.
One-hundred-and-eighty-seven participants agreed to make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, and to ensure that its management is safer for human health and the environment.

Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program said the “historic” agreement linked to the United Nations-supported Basel Convention means that countries will have to monitor and track the movements of plastic waste outside their borders.
The deal affects products used in a broad array of industries, such as health care, technology, aerospace, fashion, food and beverages.

Impact doubtful

The new rules will take a year to come into force, however. The biggest polluter of them all, the USA, hasn’t signed on either. So, how effective is this pact going to be? The agreement is likely to lead to customs agents being on the lookout for electronic waste or other types of potentially hazardous waste more than before.
German media outlet DW reported that the government in Berlin was proposing to go even further than the terms of the agreement, by banning all plastic bags.

India-inspired mural in London

Meanwhile, The Body Shop has launched its first Community Trade recycled plastic from Bengaluru. The initiative highlights the lesser-known, human side of the plastic crisis.
To mark this launch, the company unveiled a giant artwork of a female Indian waste picker in London’s Borough Market. Made using recycled plastic collected by waste pickers in Bengaluru, the artwork was on public display from May 10-11, 2019.
An artwork of a female Indian waste picker by perceptual artist Michael Murphy is unveiled in London’s Borough Market to celebrate the launch of The Body Shop’s first Community Trade recycled plastic initiative, supporting marginalised waste pickers in Bengaluru. Pic: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire
The artwork was created using 1,500 pieces of recycled plastic collected by the waste pickers being supported. Pic: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire
India has 1.5 million waste pickers who collect and sort over 6,000 tonnes of plastic every day that would otherwise pollute rivers and oceans. The majority of them are Dalits, previously known as ‘untouchables’. They have virtually no visibility in society and have limited rights. They are vulnerable to discrimination, poor living and working conditions and an unpredictable payment system. With over three decades of working with disadvantaged communities around the world, The Body Shop is applying its expertise to help fight for people and the planet.

The Body Shop will increase the amount of Community Trade Recycled plastic over time. Working with a start-up company and small waste picker communities means starting small and scaling up slowly and sustainably. In three years, the aim is to purchase over 900 tonnes of Community Trade recycled plastic and help empower up to 2,500 waste pickers in Bengaluru.

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The CSR Journal Team