This article addresses the complex issue of plastic pollution—focusing on ocean plastics. Specifically, this article examines the ocean plastics problem, critiques current binding and non-binding international environmental law surrounding ocean plastics, hazardous wastes, and pollution, and proposes a more effective solution to the ocean plastics problem. Section I provides a basic history of the creation of plastics and discusses plastics as they are used today. Section II considers the concerns surrounding ocean plastics, focusing on impacts of plastic on marine ecosystems as well as human health effects. Section III, IV, and V discuss the ongoing attempts to address the ocean plastics problem. Sections III and IV provide a brief overview of individualized and domestic attempts at addressing the ocean plastics problem, while Section V discusses attempts at addressing the problem at a global level. Section V specifically discusses the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Basel Convention, and the United Nations resolutions on marine plastics and microplastics in marine environments. Section VI proposes a solution to the issue of ocean plastics: a binding international treaty requiring all parties to take measures to address the ocean plastics problem by mandating the phasing out of all plastics with timetables for compliance; mandating consumption habits; directing countries to focus on alternative renewable resources; and requiring countries to repurpose recycling facilities. Section VI also proposes the treaty include: a clean-up fund; incentives for countries who ratify the treaty, in accordance with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities; the precautionary principle; and strict enforcement mechanisms for noncompliance. Finally, Section VII summarizes the main points of this article regarding the necessity of a plastics treaty.
Recommended CitationTaylor G. Keselica, Fish Don't Litter in Your House: Is International Law the Solution to the Plastic Pollution Problem?, 33 Pace Int'l L. Rev. 115 (2020)
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