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Launch of Group of Friends to Combat Marine Plastic Pollution

Statement by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti
Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations
New York

8 June 2020

Thank you Ambassador,

My delegation would like to thank the distinguished leaders and the  Missions of Norway, Maldives and Antigua and Barbuda for taking this initiative to launch the Group of Friends to Combat Marine Plastic Pollution on the occasion of World Ocean Day. We fully support this initiative as a Founding member of the group of friends. 

At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. Waste plastic makes up 80% of all marine debris and the main source of marine plastic are land-based. 

Governments have to act now and join hands with industry and other relevant stakeholders to explore innovative process and solutions and sustainable alternatives to reduce the production and excessive use of plastic. Apart from effective recycling policies, we need to adopt, more fundamentally, sustainable lifestyles which are based on minimal waste and maximum recovery. Innovative solutions like road making from plastics or converting waste to energy etc. can contribute in combating this challenge. 

With a vast coastline of 7,500 km, India faces an enormous challenge in cleaning up its seas. To incentivize domestic plastic recycling units, India has banned the import of plastic waste, particularly PET bottles, in 2015. We have made a voluntary commitment to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022. We have made source segregation of waste mandatory. India has also built 34,000 km of roads by mixing bitumen with plastic. In 2018, India launched its own automated ocean pollution observation system. 

In 2019, India along with Norway launched an initiative to combat Marine Pollution. The initiative aims to support local governments and improving private sector investment – for example, a pilot project using plastic waste as fuel substitution for coal in cement production. 

As a member of G-20, we have supported the “Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter” and the “Osaka blue ocean vision” that aims to reduce marine plastic litter to zero by 2050, which is a major step for global action. 

To conclude, we need Governments to make this a part of their policies and incentivise sustainable use of plastics to save our oceans and marine lives even as we combat the scourge of COVID-19. 

Thank you.