Earth Day 2024: Planet vs Plastics

The theme of Earth Day 2024 is 'Planet vs Plastics' – how much plastic is being produced & how can wider renewable energy projects impact sustainability?

Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has evolved into a global event recognised by over a billion people across more than 193 countries each 22 April. 

The 2024 theme, ‘Planet vs Plastics’, emphasises the critical nature of protecting our environment and conserving natural resources, while also spotlighting the importance of shifting towards sustainable and renewable energy sources, moving away from fossil fuel dependency.

Part of Earth Day 2024 is advocating for a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040, in recognition that plastics pose a danger to humans and the natural environment, as well as the future of the climate. 

In 2023… 

  • 500 million plastic bags – one million bags per minute – were produced worldwide 
  • 100 billion plastic beverage containers were sold in the US – more than 300 bottles per inhabitant
  • 95% of all plastics in the US were not recycled at all 
  • The fast fashion industry produced over 100 billion garments, approximately 85% of which ended up in landfill or incinerators

“The word environment means what surrounds you,” says said Kathleen Rogers, President of EARTHDAY.ORG. 

“In the case of plastics we have become the product itself – it flows through our blood stream, adheres to our internal organs, and carries with it heavy metals known to cause cancer and disease. Now this once-thought amazing and useful product has become something else, and our health and that of all other living creatures hangs in the balance."

Kathleen Rogers, President of EARTHDAY.ORG

“The Planet vs. Plastics campaign is a call to arms, a demand that we act now to end the scourge of plastics and safeguard the health of every living being upon our planet.” 

Tetra Pak pioneers plastic reduction

Research conducted by Tetra Pak, a global leader in food processing and packaging solutions, shows that consumers are increasingly advocating for a decrease in plastic packaging, and industry leaders are taking notice.

According to the survey, half of the businesses attribute the adoption of new sustainable practices in manufacturing and processing to consumer demand. Moreover, a significant 74% of consumers are more inclined to purchase from brands that engage in environmental discourse, while 42% are willing to pay a premium for products packaged in environmentally friendly materials.

“The food and beverage industry is at a critical moment, rethinking its way of doing business to help address the climate emergency and dealing with the inevitable impact this has on their operations and solutions,” explains Gilles Tisserand, Vice President Climate & Biodiversity, Tetra Pak

“They are looking to suppliers to help them thrive in an increasingly competitive market and we remain committed to playing our part, keeping the innovation engine running to develop new research, collaborative ecosystems and product offering.”

Gilles Tisserand, Vice President Climate & Biodiversity, Tetra Pak.

Global renewable energy initiatives

Transitioning to renewable energy is pivotal for environmental protection. 

A comprehensive study by Ocean Science & Technology has explored this move across 81 countries, considering factors like wealth and population. 

Ocean Science & Technology’s Founder, Mike Rees, stated: “This landmark study underscores the critical advancements and diverse approaches nations are taking to harness the power of renewable energy and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.”

Chile stands out as the leading nation in innovative renewable projects, with an analysis showing a significant 76% global increase in renewable energy patents from 2000 to 2021. 

The top performers in renewable efforts include China, the Philippines, Cyprus, and the US, among others, showcasing a worldwide positive trend towards renewable energy adoption.

The environmental impact of energy choices

Earth Day aims to drive personal, corporate, and governmental action towards a more sustainable and energy-efficient future, to preserve our planet for coming generations. 

The event highlights the adoption of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, reducing CO2 emissions, enhancing energy efficiency, advocating for supportive policies, and engaging communities in education about energy conservation.

Promotion of renewable energy and efficient energy use plays a crucial role, addressing the challenge of climate change by minimising greenhouse gas emissions. Activities surrounding Earth Day foster community involvement and raise awareness about the benefits of energy conservation and the necessity of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

Through the collective efforts highlighted on Earth Day, there is a clear path forward in the fight against plastic pollution and the move towards a sustainable future.

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