UNHQ makes contribution to reduce plastic waste

Thu, 08/06/17

The week of June 5th saw UNHQ host the Ocean Conference in New York City, which coincided with World Environment Day and World Oceans Day. UNHQ took this opportunity to ask conference attendees and UN staff in NYC to make a contribution to reduce plastic in New York City and our oceans. 

Did you or a colleague find a new metal water bottle sitting on your desk during the Ocean Conference? It was not an accident. Please use it, frequently! Or give it to someone else who promises to.

Efforts are underway in the UNHQ Secretariat to increase drinking from the tap and to reduce use and disposal of single-use water bottles in NYC and at UNHQ. Doing so is economical, good for the environment and easy at UNHQ where the water is proven to be clean and safe.

New York City drinking water is among the best quality in the US. Large reservoirs in upstate New York deliver over 1 billion gallons of fresh, clean water to NYC daily. The water travels through UN taps and water fountains and is tested on a regular basis. The results of these tests are now available online on Greening the Blue. You may have also noticed the signs that have been placed above all water fountains in UNHQ Secretariat and their locations on the Secretariat maps. 

Increasing the use of reusable metal bottles and tap water decreases the use of single-use plastic bottles. Impacts include transport emissions, overfull landfills and the high economic cost of recycling plastics. A bottle disposed of after consumption can take up to 450 years to break down into ever smaller pieces.  If plastic reaches the ocean, it is very difficult or impossible to recover. It decomposes into microplastic particles that attract other pollutants, and are easily consumed by sea creatures. Eight million tons of plastic pour into the oceans every year, equivalent of dumping one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.

SDG Target 14 includes Target 14.1, “By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution”. The time of just thinking about doing better is over. The time to act is now and every single action helps. 

This is a joint initiative by the Office for Central Support Services (OCSS), UN Environment including Greening the Blue, the Office of the President of the General Assembly (OPGA), the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), and the #OneLess campaign.  

The original story was featured on iSeek.

Categories: Waste