Mayor Joy, world leaders express hope to end plastic pollution

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has expressed the collective hope of city leaders around the world to address the global crisis of plastic waste or plastic pollution that has adverse effects on the environment especially in times of calamities.

“Let us recognize the power of cities, acknowledge our accomplishments, and empower us with the necessary tools to continue championing the call against plastic pollution. Together, we can forge a future where this is but a distant memory, and our planet thrives in its full glory,” Mayor Belmonte said during the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Paris, France on Saturday, May 27.

During the event, Belmonte, who was chosen as the sole representative of local chief executives worldwide, expressed the call to national leaders to consider their needs in passing the UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution (Plastic Treaty) that aims to address the full lifecycle of plastic including its production, design, disposal, and alternatives to reduce its negative impacts in the cities and the environment. 

The Quezon City government said that it implemented various initiatives  to address environmental concerns involving plastics such as flooding from clogged sewers, air quality impacts from burning plastics, and the challenge of managing vast amounts of plastic waste.

Among these measures were the prohibition of single-use plastic bags and disposable cutleries, straws, and cups in restaurants and fast food chains for dine-in customers; and banning single-use containers and sachets in hotels.

The city government also launched the Trash to Cashback program, spearheaded by the Quezon City Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Department (CCESD) in 2021, that allows residents to exchange plastic wastes to environmental points which they can use to pay utility bills.

Belmonte, however, said the these initiatives are still inadequate to fully address the concern on plastic pollution. 

“While we as cities are proud of our respective achievements, we recognize that we cannot address the plastic waste crisis alone. We need a truly ambitious global plastics treaty that unifies our efforts and sets a high bar for all nations to follow,” she explained.

Belmonte said that world mayors want to included various provisions in the treaty including the total ban on unnecessary plastics and adoption of reusable items; the creation of a financial mechanism to help cities shift harmful consumption patterns into an innovative and sustainable one; and strengthened collaboration with cities in the negotiation process of the treaty to ensure realistic and implementable programs.

The event was also attended by French Minister for Europe, and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, French Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion of France Christophe Béchu, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Inger Andersen, Marine Biology Professor of University of Plymouth Prof. Richard Thompson, Ellen MacArthur Foundation Executive Head for Plastics and Finance program Rob Opsomer, World Wide Fund for Nature International Correspondent Marc Lambertini, and children and youth representative Zuhair Ahmed Kowshik. 

Earlier, Belmonte and leaders of local and regional governments issued their detailed vision on the treaty during the UN Paris International Forum to End Plastic Pollution in Cities.

The forum gathered mayors, scientists, philantrophies, non-government and intergovernmental organizations who are committed to fight plastic pollution for   a day of exchanges on solutions to minimize the impacts of plastics on Earth.