Struggle for a world without plastic waste

Published on: 07 April 2022
deckhand

Our oceans and seas are threatened by plastic. These crucial ecosystems are necessary for all life on Earth. Governments, the business sector, and consumers must take urgent action to lessen the harm to our planet.

The pollution on our planet is plastic. We generate 300 million tons of waste plastic on average every year. That is almost as much weight as there are people on Earth. The use of plastic has been growing over the past few decades, and the explosion of single-use plastic in particular is suffocating our planet. Long after we are gone, the plastics we make, use, and discard will still be around, and a large portion of it will end up in hazardous landfills, waterways, and oceans. But all life on Earth depends on the vital ecosystems that make up our oceans and seas. Due to their two-thirds coverage of the planet, they are essential for maintaining biodiversity, regulating weather, and storing carbon.

We were happy to learn that representatives from 175 countries had decided to start an ambitious, legally binding treaty to combat plastic waste in March 2022. Since the UN resolution was approved, work will start this year on establishing the rules, and the final treaty should be finished by 2024. This is, without a doubt, the most revolutionary environmental agreement since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Allianz is honored to take part in the fight against plastic pollution and the devastation of our oceans as a partner and supporter of Sea Shepherd. Sea Shepherd is dedicated to the enforcement of conservation law and works arduously to protect the world's oceans and marine life. Through our partnership, Allianz staff members have the opportunity to join the crew of the Sea Eagle, one of the ships in the Sea Shepherd fleet, and actively participate in preserving our oceans. With funding from four Allianz entities, Allianz sponsored the purchase of the Sea Eagle in 2020. A total of 12 cubic meters of plastic and polypro waste were successfully removed from the Mediterranean Sea last year, including 174 illegal fish aggregation devices, 870 tanks, and plastic bottles.

"Plastic waste is killing our oceans, and as Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson says, ‘If the oceans die, we die…’ So this partnership represents all of Allianz, true to our purpose of We secure your future."

Barbara Karuth-Zelle, Member of Board of Management and COO of Allianz SE 

As part of a larger Allianz initiative, our own offices are reducing the use of single-use plastics. We began by conducting a thorough assessment of single-use plastics on a global scale. We also created internal best-practice guidance for our operating entities around the globe. Some organizations have already implemented plastic reduction policies with the goal of lowering and eliminating single-use plastic from their facilities. We aim to broaden and improve our global assessment and keep pushing for the reduction of plastic.

"Behavioral change will result from changes the treaty will bring, but there will also be an industrial necessity to truly start introducing a circular economy for plastic."

Günther Thallinger, Member of Board of Management and Chair of Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance 

Moving plastics toward a circular economy

Environmental damage from plastics starts as soon as the manufacturing process starts. It is crucial that the new UN treaty encompass the entire value chain, from plastic's design and production to its disposal and waste-management procedures. The treaty places responsibility on developing an efficient circular economy with strong enough incentives to benefit a variety of stakeholders. However, it is also crucial to start the necessary behavioral shifts and encourage consumers to use less and recycle more plastic, especially single-use plastic. The treaty's successful implementation could reduce the production of virgin plastic by 55%, save governments US$70 billion by 2040, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. Allianz wholeheartedly endorses this resolution. It is a real turning point that has the potential to bring about sizable change.

A single agreement, piece of legislation, or ship may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but it only takes many drops to form a wave. We intend to continue supporting Sea Shepherd's outstanding work while broadening the scope of our campaign against plastic waste, which will include addressing the critical problem of plastic in rivers.

Source: Allianz news

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