World Environment Day 2018: ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’

World Environment Day 2018: ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’

ALAN TAYLOR      JUN 5, 2018

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June 5 is marked by the United Nations as World Environment Day, a day set aside since 1974 to promote “worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment.” This year’s theme is “beat plastic pollution.” In a message, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged all people to reject single-use plastic items, and warned that growing levels of plastic waste were becoming unmanageable, saying “every year, more than eight million tons end up in the oceans.” Gathered here, a look at some of this plastic waste from the past year, accumulating in waterways, forests, and beaches across the globe, and some of the efforts to clean and recycle the mountains of material.

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  • Plastic items float atop a garbage-filled creek in Manila, Philippines, on May 12, 2018. 

    Noel Celis / AFP / Getty

    A Vietnamese woman gathers shells in a coastal forest littered with plastic waste, stuck in branches after it was washed up by the rising tide, in Thanh Hoa province, about 150 kilometers south of Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 18, 2018. 

    Nhac Nguyen / AFP / Getty
  • A wild elephant rummages through garbage dumped in the village of Digampathana in north-central Sri Lanka, on May 11, 2018. At this dump, a herd of wild elephants forages among the rubbish, swallowing dangerous scraps of plastic mixed with rotting food in what experts warn is an increasing problem for the revered animals. 

    Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP / Getty
  • Plastic waste lies scattered through a forest near an uncontrolled garbage dump near Khabarovsk, Russia, on May, 27, 2018. 

    Artem Zarubin / Shutterstock
  • Volunteers collect largely plastic garbage along the coast of Manila Bay during the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day in Paranaque city, Philippines, on September 16, 2017. 

    Romeo Ranoco / Reuters
  • Plastic rubbish lies strewn across the polluted banks of the river Yamuna near the historic Taj Mahal in Agra, India, on May 19, 2018. 

    Saumya Khandelwal / Reuters
  • Plastic bottles and garbage line Kuta Beach in Bali on February 12, 2017. 

    Maxim Blinkov / Shutterstock
  • A black-footed albatross chick with plastics in its stomach lies dead on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands on November 2, 2014. The remote atoll is a delicate sanctuary for millions of seabirds. Midway sits amid a collection of human-made debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the paths of Midway, there are piles of feathers with rings of plastic in the middle—remnants of birds that died with the plastic in their guts. Each year the agency removes about 20 tons of plastic and debris that wash ashore from surrounding waters. 

    Dan Clark / USFWS via AP
  • Up to 80 plastic bags were extracted from inside a whale, as seen in this still image from a June 1, 2018, video made by Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources in Songkhla, Thailand. 

    Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources / Reuters
  • A billboard portrait of a man surfing a wave made of plastic bags and bottles, created to denounce ocean pollution, is pictured in Santiago, Chile, on the eve of World Environment Day, on June 4, 2018. 

    Claudio Reyes / AFP / Getty
  • Rafiq Maqbool / AP
  • Garbage covers the beach days after an extended storm hit the shoreline of Zouq Mosbeh, north of Beirut, Lebanon, on January 22, 2018. Environmentalists say the winter storm pushed a wave of trash onto Lebanese shores, stirring outrage over a waste-management crisis that has choked the country since 2015. 

    Hussein Malla / AP

    Plastic waste, washed ashore and tangled in brush, on the coastal strip of Shanghai, on May 13, 2018. 

    Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty

    A block of compressed plastic bottles stands at a plastic-waste center on the outskirts of Beijing on May 16, 2018. 

    Fred Dufour / AFP / Getty
  • Bangladeshi people walk across a bridge on the river Buriganga, choked with plastic and other waste, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on June 4, 2018. 

    A.M. Ahad / AP
  • In this photograph taken on May 6, 2018, egrets gather atop a garbage dump at Kathirana, on the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. 

    Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP / Getty
  • Litter, mostly plastic, lies on a beach tangled up with kelp, with Table Mountain in the background, close to the center of Cape Town, South Africa, on June 3, 2018. 

    Rodger Bosch / AFP / Getty
    Michele Cattani / AFP / Getty
  • A bicycle is parked next to plastics and other garbage on a beach in Neo Faliro, southern Athens, Greece, on January 17, 2018. Greece has the European Union’s longest coastline, poor waste management, and a heavy consumption of single-use plastic that is littering the country’s seabed. To fight the problems, volunteer divers are working as underwater garbage collectors to clear debris—mostly plastic—that is littering the sea floor. 

    Thanassis Stavrakis / AP
  • An Indian boy walks through plastic waste on Juhu beach in Mumbai, India, on June 2, 2018. 

    Punit Paranjpe / AFP / Getty

    A picture taken on June 2, 2018, in Kampala, Uganda, shows women cleaning plastic bags to be sold off to a factory that recycles them into plastic utensils such as basins, plates, and cups. 

    Isaac Kasamani / AFP / Getty
  • A Pakistani fisherman moors his boat alongside garbage and plastic bags in the harbor in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 10, 2018. 

    Asif Hassan / AFP / Getty
  • Indian stall owners sit alongside a dry canal filled with plastic bags and garbage in Jalandhar on May 10, 2018. 

    Shammi Mehra / AFP / Getty

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