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World Consumer Rights Day 2021: Consumers unite to “Tackle Plastic Pollution”

  • Published on March 22, 2021
World Consumer Rights Day (March 15th) is an annual occasion dedicated to highlighting the power of consumers and their rights for a fair, safe and sustainable marketplace for everyone.

World Consumer Rights Day (March 15th) is an annual occasion dedicated to highlighting the power of consumers and their rights for a fair, safe and sustainable marketplace for everyone.

Consumers International is proud and privileged to coordinate this day of global collaboration, across 200 consumer advocacy members in over 100 countries.

On this annual occasion, the consumer movement unite on one topic that is relevant and important to consumers around the world. This year, consumers joined together to ‘Tackle Plastic Pollution’.

We are currently facing a global plastic pollution crisis. Although plastic can be a highly useful material in everyday life, our consumption and production of plastics have become unsustainable. Now is a critical time in highlighting, addressing, and tackling plastic pollution as the global COVID-19 pandemic adds to the rise of single-use plastics including face masks, gloves, and food packaging. Most importantly, 2021 may well see a global collaboration around plastic waste.

A global study in 2019 found that 82% of respondents are aware of plastic waste and are already taking practical actions to tackle plastic pollution. This demonstrates that consumers care and want change. However, choices are not readily available and information about plastics, for example in terms of labelling on packaging, can be misleading and confusing.

As a global consumer movement, it is critical that we mobilise businesses, governments, and civil society to make tackling plastic pollution and sustainable consumption the easy choice for all.

On March 9th, Consumers International hosted the World Consumer Rights Day 2021 Leadership Perspectives Webinar with leaders from the consumer movement (Danish Consumer Council, Citizen consumer and civic Action Group), business (The Body Shop and Polymateria), and civil society (SYSTEMIQ and Greenpeace). The webinar saw over 75 global attendees, who joined to hear insights from our panellists on consumer attitudes to tackling plastic pollution.

Anja Philip, President of the Danish Consumer Council says, “for the first time in our history, we (in Denmark) had a green election, meaning the environment and climate issues were top priority.”

Martin Stuchtey, Founder of SYSTEMIQ highlights consumers should not "panic” but “worry and act”. He explains the importance of solutions to plastics: “A pathway can be described for the industry to turn near-zero leakage with available technology and solutions. If we don’t get plastics right, then we might not get many other things right, as we try to fix our environmental problems.”

You can view the whole recording here:

There is not a single solution to tackling plastic pollution, so Consumers International and its members have created the 7 Rs Model of Waste Management (replace, rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and repair), to demonstrate different ways we can all combat this issue.

Putting the consumer front and centre when it comes to reducing plastic waste, particularly single use plastic, will help to provide the step-change needed for all stakeholders to take a considered and relevant approach to addressing the issue.

Members of Consumers International took part in a global photo activity sharing real-life examples from consumers, demonstrating the importance of tackling plastic pollution in their everyday lives.

View World Consumer Rights Day 2021’s Photo Action here:

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