Plastic is a threat to our oceans and seas. All life on earth depends on these important ecosystems. Action is urgently needed by governments, the business community and consumers to reduce to harm to our planet.
Plastic is polluting our planet. On average, each year we produce 300 million tons of plastic waste . That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. In recent decades, plastic usage has continued to increase, and in particular, the explosion of single-use plastic is choking our Earth. The plastics we produce, use, and discard, remain long after we are gone – and much of it ends up in toxic landfills, rivers, and our oceans. Yet, our oceans and seas are essential ecosystems that all life depends on. Covering two-thirds of the earth, they play a vital role in carbon sequestration, weather regulation, and are invaluable for protecting and nurturing biodiversity.
Towards a treaty to tackle plastic pollution
In March 2022, we welcomed the news that representatives from 175 nations have agreed to embark upon an ambitious, legally binding treaty to combat plastic waste. The passing of the UN resolution means that work begins this year on setting the rules and the final treaty should be complete by 2024. Sufficed to say, this is the most ground-breaking green deal since the 2015 Paris Climate agreement.
Allianz against plastic pollution
As a Sea Shepherd partner and supporter, Allianz is proud to be part of the fight against plastic pollution and the destruction of our oceans. Sea Shepherd works hard to protect the world’s oceans and marine wildlife and is committed to the enforcement of conservation law. Our partnership enables Allianz employees to play an active role in protecting our oceans by having the chance to become a crew member of the Sea Eagle, a ship in the Sea Shepherd fleet. The acquisition of the Sea Eagle was sponsored by Allianz in 2020 with funding from four Allianz entities. Last year, it successfully pulled up 174 illegal fish aggregation devices from the Mediterranean Sea, collected 870 tanks and plastic bottles, and in total collected 12 cubic meters of garbage made of plastic and polypro.
Plastic waste is killing our oceans, and as Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson says, ‘If the oceans die, we die…’ So this partnership represents all of Allianz, true to our purpose of We secure your future.
Barbara Karuth-Zelle, Member of Board of Management and COO of Allianz SE Cutting single-use plastics in our own offices is also a part of a wider Allianz effort. We have started with a systematic global assessment on single-use plastic and also produced internal best-practice guidance to our operating entities throughout the world. Some entities already have plastic reduction policies in place, aiming to reduce and remove single-use plastic from their premises. We look to expand and enhance our global assessment and continue to work towards plastic reduction.
Behavioral change will result from changes the treaty will bring, but there will also be an industrial necessity to truly start introducing a circular economy for plastic.
Günther Thallinger, Member of Board of Management and Chair of Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance
Towards a circular economy for plastics
Plastics begin to harm the environment as soon as the production process begins. That’s why it is crucial that the new UN treaty will cover the entire value chain, starting with the design and production of plastic, right down to the disposal and waste processes. The treaty places onus on creating an effective circular economy, with sufficient incentives for multiple stakeholders to benefit from this. However, it is also important that much-needed behavioral changes are instigated and consumers make efforts to reduce and re-use plastic, especially single-use. If successfully implemented, the treaty could reduce virgin plastic production by 55%, save governments US$70 billion by 2040 , and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. At Allianz, we fully support this resolution. It is a true turning point that can drive measurable and large-scale change.
One treaty, policy, or vessel might seem like a drop in the ocean, but many drops of water can create waves. We continue to champion the impressive efforts of Sea Shepherd and also aim to expand our fight against plastic waste to more areas, including tackling the important issue of plastic in rivers.