Cities Take Lead in the Fight Against Plastic – World Cities Day 2020


Today, WWF and the Plastic Smart Cities community, celebrate World Cities Day by reaffirming their commitment to no plastic in nature by 2030, and calling on more cities around the world to take action against plastic pollution.

Urban centers are responsible for an estimated 60% of plastic marine debris[1], as inefficient waste collection and management systems and polluted waterways carry plastic pollution to the ocean, and threaten land and marine ecosystems. This growing plastic threat is indiscriminate, with cities across all regions facing similar challenges. From the villages and rural tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, to the coastal cities of the Mediterranean, to the capital cities of Northern Europe, all regions and townships from all continents are feeling the impact of plastic in nature. Cities have a key role to play, and can lead the fight against plastic with strong policies and innovative solutions that engage stakeholders at all levels.

The Plastic Smart Cities Initiative was launched in 2018, by WWF, to mobilize city authorities and communities to prevent plastic leakage into nature. In less than 2 years, 27 cities spanning across three continents have joined the initiative. WWF is supporting cities in their effort to monitor and analyze plastic waste flows to identify key sources of plastic leakage into nature. Cities are developing action plans on the basis of these findings to implement scalable solutions to these targeted issues.

In Asia, 15 cities have committed to a 30% reduction in plastic leakage by 2025, by implementing improved waste management practices and advancing circular economy principles. WWF has already laid the ground work to bring on additional city partners in 2021, to reach 25 cities across China, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

In the Mediterranean, the iconic city of Nice was the first city to engage in the fight against plastic pollution, followed by another 9 coastal tourist cities from Turkey, Croatia, Tunisia, Morocco and Italy. Most recently, the cities of Izmir in Turkey and Dubrovnik and Trogir in Croatia, have committed to ambitious targets to avoid plastic leakage into the Mediterranean Sea.  Coastal activities (link) are estimated to account for 50% of plastic contamination in the Mediterranean, with tourism further contributing to a 40% increase in marine litter each summer.

In Northern Europe, the cities of Oslo and Amsterdam are among the first cities to join the initiative, taking the lead with innovative solutions and pilot projects on the ground that serve as global best practices for other aspiring cities.

By spearheading local action and replicable solutions, WWF has created a model envisaged to grow to 1000 cities by 2030, in all regions around the globe.

“Cities are powerful actors with the collective capacity to bend the plastic curve,” said WWF’s Global Cities Lead, Vincent Kneefel. “Plastic is invading virtually all ecosystems on earth, we find it in our streets, rivers and beaches. We find it in animal species and even our own digestive tract. The 27 cities that have already joined WWF are leading the way with alternatives to single-use plastics and are developing effective waste management systems that can be scaled across other local communities. On World Cities Day, 2020, we call on all cities around the world to join us and our ambitious pursuit for no plastic in nature by 2030.”

WWF and Plastic Smart Cities are advocating for new policy standards, new incentives for industry, and new models of innovation for plastic avoidance, use, reuse and waste management.

Join our 27 Plastic Smart Cities on the road to 1000, and visit to learn more about successful initiatives and best practices that are currently being implemented.

[1] Lebreton, L., Andrady, A. Future scenarios of global plastic waste generation and disposal. Palgrave Commun 5, 6 (2019)

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