Freo role in global plastics treaty push

Rebecca Prince-Ruiz with ABC presenter Craig Reucassel from War on Waste.

FREMANTLE plastic waste campaigner Rebecca Prince-Ruiz flew to Nairobi this week to urge world leaders to adopt a treaty on plastic pollution.

Ms Prince-Ruiz will be attending the UN Environmental Assembly on behalf of Plastic Free July, a movement she started in Freo a decade ago which has now grown to involve 140 million people across 190 countries.

Last year Plastic Free July and research company Ipsos surveyed 20,000 people about a global treaty on plastic, finding 90 per cent were in support. The finding prompted the World Wildlife Fund to join in, and earlier this month it co-authored the report “Rising Tides” to expand on the survey results.

Ms Prince-Ruiz will be using the document to push the assembled nations to start negotiations on a plastic pollution treaty – that’s how little progress has been made til now.

“People care about the plastic waste and pollution crisis, and Plastic Free July gives them an opportunity to take action and do something personally about it,” Ms Prince-Ruiz told the Herald.

“As a Freo local I can truly say that this community has been at the heart of this extraordinary change. 

“From the Fremantle Farmers Market getting rid of plastic bags and the council bringing in policy changes such as banning balloon releases and changing event guidelines, to groups like Ecoburbia making Boomerang Bags and beeswax wraps, to packaging free stores opening, schools having waste free Wednesday lunches and businesses switching to reusable coffee cups. 

“All these small changes add up to make a difference, and we have shared these stories with the world. 

“And now we see it impacting government – we have a statewide ban on plastic bags and other single-use plastics and a wonderful container deposit scheme, Containers for Change. 

“And now we have this survey where almost 9 in 10 people surveyed globally support a treaty on plastic. 

“I’m delighted to be heading to Nairobi to participate in the United Nations Environment Assembly next week.

“We are often overwhelmed by environmental issues and it’s easy to think ‘What difference can one person make?’. 

“This movement and work has shown me that our actions matter and together our voices can be heard. 

“It is time now for governments to act to turn off the plastic pollution problem at the tap.”

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