We humans breath Plastics or drink plastics or eat plastics when we consume fish. Even the most pristine drinking water is now containg plastic particles.
Tired Earth: Interview with Erik Solheim, Former Executive Director of UN Environment, President Green Belt

This interview was conducted by Rebecca Herbert

 

As a first question, how do you assess the world situation in the face of plastic products?

The world is facing a plastic pandemics, a menace. Its a triple crisis:
First and foremost its an environment disaster. Whales and turtles,  cows and camels and many other animals suffer after being entangled in plastics or eating it. Seabirds even feed their chicks plastic, mistaking it for food.
It is also a health crisis. We humans breath Plastics or drink plastics or eat plastics when we consume fish. Even the most pristine drinking water is now containg plastic particles. The full impact of plastics on the human body is yet to be known, but noone has argued its good for us.
Finally its an economic disaster. Who want to visit the Worlds most appealing tourist spots if beaches are contaminated and you are swimming in a soup of plastic. Indonesia has definer plastic pollution as a severe threat to BAli, this most bautiful island and tourist hotspot.

 

Why do governments not take plastic pollution and its devastating effects on human health and the environment seriously?

It has taken time to realize the full extent of the problem. Plastics was long seen as the miracle material, because of all its useful applicances and its low price. India, Europe, China and many others are now starting taking action. We will see governments coming forward to prohibit plastic products we dont need and to implement extended producer responsibility for the products where we need to recycle.

 

Why are the technology of plastic recycling and the production of alternative products not as advanced as the technology of plastic production?

Plastics is so widespread because its useful. Look to the covid pandemic to see in how many ways we use plastic. But governments and business now need to step forward. They should implement bans on less useful products as implemented in EU and India. We need new and better materials which can decompose in nature. And we need large scale, industrial recycling. Lets set our ambition high. A completely circular economy, no less!

 

What are environmental groups like Tired Earth and campaigns like #plasticfreesummer role in increasing public awareness to deal with plastic pollution?

We can not solve the problem without TiredEarth and other activists. Citizen actions is the main driver of change. Please continue your great work informing and engaging with the public opnion and putting pressure on political leaders and business for change!

The best of Tired Earth delivered to your inbox

Sign up for more inspiring photos, stories, and special offers from Tired Earth