[Yangzhou, China] – Today the City of Yangzhou joined WWF’s Plastic Smart Cities Initiative, pledging to eliminate plastic pollution by 2030, while aligning with WWF’s global “No Plastic In Nature” campaign. The City of Yangzhou joins the City of Sanya as the first two cities in China to join the global initiative, which now counts 21 city partners from around the world.
Lin Baorong, the Deputy Secretary-General for the Yangzhou Municipal People's Government said in a statement, “Yangzhou is an ecological city, a garden city, as well as a forest city which won the 'UN Habitat Award' in 2006 (Scroll of Honour Award). Located at the intersection of the Yangtze river and the grand canal, the ‘No.1 Canal City’ is worthy of the name. In order to explore solutions to the global environmental problems caused by plastic pollution, the City of Yangzhou has actively responded to the call of WWF and officially joined the Plastic Smart Cities initiative. In the future, Yangzhou will continue to enhance prevention and control of plastic pollution, focus on strengthening environmental protection and actively advocate for green lifestyles and strive to provide the world with a conducive Chinese experience.”
Today an estimated 60% of plastic marine debris derives from urban centers, as polluted waterways carry plastic pollution to the ocean. Cities like Yangzhou, that are strategically located along rivers and other major waterways, play an increasingly important role in preventing plastic pollution from feeding into the ocean. The Yangtze river flows through 19 provinces, cities, and autonomous regions, and due to the rapid economic development of nearby cities including Yangzhou, this river basin environment is facing unprecedented pressure, including the threat of plastic pollution. But today, Yangzhou has taken an important step in securing a clean Yangtze River, with its firm commitment to the Plastic Smart Cities initiative.
Ni Ni, WWF’s Freshwater Conservation Ambassador provided further context, “The Yangtze River originates in the Tanggula Mountains of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and flows for over 6,300 km all the way into the East China Sea. The Yangtze river is not only the cradle of the splendid Chinese civilization, but is also one of the seven rivers in the world with the richest aquatic biodiversity, and home to numerous rare aquatic and terrestrial species.”
LU Lunyan, the Chief Operating Officer of WWF China added “…to solve the plastic pollution problem, besides good land-sea integrated planning, it also requires more cities to join and act together. Yangzhou, as a city in the Yangtze River Delta Megalopolis has become one of the first WWF Plastic Smart Cities in China in April 2020, which has remarkable strategic significance.”
Vincent Kneefel, WWF’s Global Cities Lead also welcomed today’s announcement, “I would like to welcome China's cultural and historic city Yangzhou as a Plastic Smart City. WWF will work with Yangzhou to explore how to implement a successful plastic waste management system in a river-based area. We look forward to your contributions and best practices that can serve as an example to river-based cities around the world.”
The amount of plastic entering the ocean is projected to grow four-fold by 2050. Transformative changes, including moving away from single-use towards re-useable packaging, are needed to save our oceans, say Vincent Kneefel and John Duncan.