Greenpeace International together with artist Benjamin Von Wong and Emmy-nominated actor Shailene Woodley today unveiled a five-metre tall art installation entitled #PerpetualPlastic Machine on the banks of the Seine River to send a message to negotiators that the Global Plastics Treaty must stop runaway plastic production and use.
The installation includes a representation of a giant oil rig powering an endless plastic supply chain, highlighting how 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels and pollute across their entire lifecycle. Global production of plastics has increased sharply in the past 50 years from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to over 390 million tonnes in 2021. If the current trend continues, industry estimates predict plastic production could double by 2030-2035 and triple by 2050(based on 2015 figures).
Benjamin Von Wong, artist and activist, said: “I designed the #PerpetualPlastic Machine to highlight the intimate connection between the fossil fuel industry and consumer goods companies selling single-use plastics. Both industries are responsible for devastating our planet while putting the blame on consumers. I hope this installation can become a symbol for how necessary it is for us to have a strong and ambitious global treaty.”
Shailene Woodley, Emmy-nominated actor and activist, said: “Plastic pollution is flooding our planet, harming people’s health, accelerating social injustice, destroying biodiversity, and fuelling the climate crisis. The Global Plastics Treaty must be ambitious enough to ensure a safer environment for us and the next generations.”
Yvette Arellano, founder and director of Fenceline Watch, said: “Our future is in danger as exposure from petrochemical production increases harm to frontline communities. Our human rights are continuously violated as these harms are carried over generations – while we live without access to justice or remedy. Low-wealth communities of color like ours are forced into conditions outside our control, and we are left to shoulder the mounting risk because of relentless and increasing plastic production.”
Marian Ledesma, Zero Waste Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia Philippines and a delegate at the upcoming negotiations, said: “A strong and equitable Global Plastics Treaty will not just pave the way towards eliminating plastic pollution; it also means achieving justice for communities impacted by extraction and plastic production, and disproportionately affected by the plastic crisis. This is why it’s necessary that this legal instrument delivers a drastic reduction in plastic production and a just transition plan for workers and other disproportionately affected stakeholders.”
The art installation is being launched ahead of the second Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meeting of the Global Plastics Treaty (INC2) which will begin on Monday, May 29 until June 2, 2023 in Paris, France. Over a thousand delegates, including ministers from governments all over the world, will convene to secure a legally binding Treaty. The UN has set a goal for the treaty to be negotiated by the end of 2024.
Greenpeace, together with allies from the Break Free from Plastic movement, demands a treaty that will keep oil and gas in the ground and put an end to big polluters’ relentless plastic production. The group said that a strong, effective and ambitious Global Plastics Treaty must:
- End plastic pollution – from production to disposal – to protect the environment and human health
- Cap and phase down plastic production
- Ensure a just and inclusive transition to a low-carbon, zero-waste, toxic-free, reuse-based economy
- Be firmly rooted in a human rights-based approach that reduces inequality, prioritises human health, and centres justice in its creation and implementation
Call on the NZ Government to ban unnecessary single-use plastic bottles* in NZ, and to incentivise reusable and refillable alternatives.