WWF International director-general Marco Lambertini urged that a UN treaty on plastic pollution was needed. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)
WWF International director-general Marco Lambertini urged that a UN treaty on plastic pollution was needed. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

Concern with SA’s reluctance to join plastic treaty after new report

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Sep 9, 2021

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Cape Town - After the recent report by WWF revealing the lifetime cost of plastics, environmental groups remain concerned with the government’s reluctance to join the international treaty on plastics and their failure to attend the meeting on Global Ministerial Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution last week.

The report was titled Plastics: The cost to society, environment and the economy, and demonstrated that governments and citizens were unknowingly subsiding a plastic system that imposed countless negative impacts on people and the environment.

WWF South Africa Circular Plastics Economy project manager Lorren de Kock said: “As is the case with other developing countries, South Africa is faced with the needs of development vs. environment, which is not an either/or conversation anymore.

“Jobs and a thriving economy is a priority for the South African government and this report talks directly to the argument of actual monetary costs to society which is not considered in the current economic arguments.

De Kock said this should initiate more evidenced-based discussions within government and result in the acknowledgement that a collective and global response was required to transition the current plastic system.

“Just as in the climate crisis, we see that marginalised communities are disproportionately bearing the cost of the plastic lifecycle, and climate change, which the plastics lifecycle is contributing to,” said De Kock.

Extinction Rebellion Cape Town spokesperson Michael Wolf said the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment’s (DFFE) refusal to participate in the international treaty on plastics indicated their failure to give the issue the urgency it deserved.

Masifundise Development Trust director Naseegh Jaffer said, “It appears that there is a concerning relationship between the DFFE and plastic producers. This is a toxic relationship that enhances the production of that which is poisonous to communities and the environment as a whole. It also means that small-scale fishing communities will again bear the brunt of poor decision-making by the department and for the benefit of large companies.”

WWF International director-general Marco Lambertini urged that a UN treaty on plastic pollution was needed that united governments, companies and consumers around clear targets for reduction, collection, recycling and sustainable alternatives to stop plastic leakage into the environment by 2030.

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Cape Argus

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