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Good morning, this is Michelle and we continue to explore the plastics crisis, with exactly one month to go until key negotiations for a global plastics treaty begin in Nairobi.

Today we turn our attention to cities – on one hand, the ones responsible for dealing with our plastic waste and on the other, the ones bearing a large part of the costs.

In other environmental news, we hear that wealthy countries need to reach deeper into their pockets to restore nature.

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Michelle Langrand


🗑️ Overwhelmed cities look to solve their plastic problem

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Many cities lack the capacity to manage the plastic waste produced by their inhabitants. (Credit: Unplash)

Local authorities are often the first in line when dealing with plastic waste, but the large majority is leaking into the environment, polluting the oceans and posing a risk to human health. As countries prepare for negotiations on a global plastics treaty set to begin in February, local governments will have a chance to state their priorities.

A little over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, producing around 60 per cent of marine plastic debris. Cities and municipalities are often in charge of collecting, transporting and recycling waste, including plastics.

They also have the power to impose measures to slash plastic use. Cities in Argentina, Mexico, the United States or Canada, for example, have outpaced their national governments and toughened up their laws, banning plastic straws or single-use plastic bags. Cities like London, Amsterdam and Odawara have installed water fountains to encourage people to use reusable bottles. But the tonnes of plastic debris that accumulate in streets or in dumpsites has become overwhelming.

Read more on Geneva Solutions

Here's what else is happening

Number of the day

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The amount the world’s 20 richest nations need to spend each year by 2050 on nature restoration schemes to address the climate and biodiversity crisis facing the planet. This is more than double the investments made by G20 countries in 2020, a report by the United Nations and partners warned on Thursday. It also called for private sector investments in “nature-based solutions” such as peatland restoration or sustainable farming practices to be ramped up to help close the gap.

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