World Environment Day 2023


  • Held on June 5 each year, World Environment Day 2023 has a specific host country and a theme.

    • 50th anniversary of the World Environment Day

About World Environment Day 2023 and Theme

  • For 2023, the host is the West African country of Côte d’Ivoire, in partnership with the Netherlands; while the theme is preventing plastic pollution.

    World Environment Day 2023
    Source: Freepik
  • Under the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution, the 45th World Environment Day with the same theme was also held under the leadership of India.
    • The first World  Environment Day was celebrated in 1973 with the theme “Only One Earth”. Since then, several pressing environmental themes have been undertaken.
    • Some of these themes are’Only One Future for Our Children’ (1979), ‘A Tree for Peace’ (1986), ‘For Life on Earth – Save Our Seas’ (1998), ‘Connect with the World Wide Web of Life’ (2001), among many others.
    • Under the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution, the 45th World Environment Day with the same theme was also held under the leadership of India.
  • This theme is an initiative to raise awareness about the production, use, disposal, and effects of plastic.

Plastic Facts

  • According to UN data, more than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide, half of which is designed to be used only once. Of that, less than 10 per cent is recycled.
  • Consequently, an estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas annually.
  • Studies have found that discarded or burnt single-use plastic harms human health and biodiversity, while polluting every ecosystem from mountain tops to the ocean floor.
  • Around 70 per cent of global plastic production is concentrated in six major polymer types – referred collectively as commodity plastics. These include: Polyethylene terephthalate or PET, High-density polyethylene or HDPE, Polyvinyl chloride or PVC, Low-density polyethylene or LDPE, Polypropylene or PP, and Polystyrene or PS. Each of these have different properties and can be identified by their resin identification code (RIC) denoted by symbols found on plastic products.
  • Instead, what we get are microplastics – officially defined as plastics less than five millimetres in diameter. There are two categories of microplastics.
    • Primary microplastics are tiny particles designed for commercial use, such as in cosmetics or textiles.
    • On the other hand, secondary microplastics are particles that are a product of the breakdown of larger plastic items due to exposure to environmental factors such as sun’s radiation or ocean’s waves.
  • Instead, they find their way across the planet, from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the heights of the Himalayas.
  • According to the most recent global estimates, an average human consumes at least 50,000 microplastic particles annually due to contamination of the food chain, potable water, and air.
  • The largest collection of plastics and microplastics in the ocean is in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean.
  • Also known as the trash vortex, it is located between California and Japan, and formed due to converging ocean currents.
  • Every year, as plastics enter water bodies and find their way into the ocean, they show remarkable resiliency, floating around where the current takes them until they get stuck in a gyre or large circular ocean currents.
  • The largest such gyre is in the Pacific and hence results in the collection of plastics in the region.
  • As per estimates, the GPGP covers a surface area of 1.6 million sq km– roughly half the size of India!
  • The GPGP comprises majorly of single-use plastics.
    • Broadly speaking, single-use is a term which can refer to any plastic items which are either designed to be used for one time by the consumer before they are thrown away or recycled, or likely to be used in this way.

History of World Environment Day

  • The World Environment Day, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has been held annually on June 5, since 1973.
  • The date was chosen by the UN General Assembly during the historic 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment – considered to be the first world conference to make the environment a major issue.

Source: IE

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