Dr. Anja Malawi Brandon, an advisor to the Plastics Pact and U.S. Policy Analyst for The Ocean Conservancy, joins Mitch Ratcliffe to discuss three areas for potential progress in reducing our dependence on plastic and improving recycling rates. She explains how the Plastics Pact, a consortium of 100 companies, NGOs, and governments, has a plan for transforming the plastic recycling infrastructure by 2025. The organization recently released a list of “unnecessary plastics” that they recommend be abandoned in packaging. We also talk through the prospects for the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act in Congress; Anja was on the staff of the bill’s sponsor, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). And we discuss the recently started meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, of the UN Environmental Assembly to negotiate a global plastics treaty that could introduce a framework for changing our relationship to the material.
Plastic is a convenience that has turned into a plague. According to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, plastic consumption has quadrupled over the past 30 years and plastic production currently accounts for 3.4% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Only 9% of plastic waste is recycled globally, 6.1 million tons of plastic escape into freshwater environments, and 1.7 million tons reach the ocean each year. Plastic is in our water, our soil, our food, and our bodies. You can learn more about The Ocean Conservancy at https://oceanconservancy.org/ and the Plastics Pact at https://usplasticspact.org/.