World Consumer Rights Day will focus on global plastic pollution crisis

Consumers International has announced that the theme for World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, 2021, is ‘Tackling Plastic Pollution.’

The campaign will raise awareness and engage consumers globally to adopt and promote more sustainable practices. Building on last year’s theme of ‘The Sustainable Consumer,” the campaign will also focus on the central role that consumer advocates, governments and businesses can play in tackling the global plastic pollution crisis.

Plastic is a highly useful material in our everyday lives, but our consumption and production of plastics, especially single-use plastic, have become unsustainable. This is impacting our ecosystems, causing negative environmental consequences, including pollution of the local and international environment, and threatening human health.

The Pew Charitable Trusts & SYSTEMIQ report, Breaking the Plastic Wave, released in August 2020, calculates a tripling of the flow of plastic materials into the ocean by 2040 if major policy changes, innovations and changes in behavior do not occur. Tackling plastic pollution is a global challenge which requires coordinated, international solutions. As a global consumer movement, we can play a critical role in tackling this issue and promoting the sustainable consumption and production of plastics.

  • By 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish
  • 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually
  • An estimated 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year
  • Single-use plastics account for 50 percent of the plastic produced every year
  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years
  • 40 per cent of plastic produced is packaging and discarded after one use

Consumers are increasingly concerned about plastic pollution and already taking action. A global study in 2019 found that there is a strong consumer response to plastic waste (with 82% of respondents using reusable cleaning utensils instead of single-use plastic alternatives, 72% bringing reusable bags when shopping and 62% using refillable drinking bottles) – and despite the increased use of single-use plastic during the pandemic, 55% of consumers globally have now become more concerned about the environment as a result of COVID-19 and nearly 74% of consumers (in Europe, the US and South America) are willing to spend more on sustainable packaging.

Systemic marketplace change is required at all levels from governments, businesses and standard setters to make tackling plastic pollution and sustainable consumption the easy choice for consumers.


Image Sources

  • World Consumer Rights Day: Shutterstock