Plastic-spewing artwork unveiled for Paris talks against waste

People stand next to artist Benjamin Von Wong's art installation unveiled by the Greenpeace International, ahead of a four-day summit of the United Nations Environment Programme on reducing plastic pollution, in Paris, France May 27, 2023. REUTERS/Yonathan Van der Voort

PARIS (Reuters) – Lobbyists Greenpeace unveiled an artwork in Paris on Saturday in the shape of a machine churning out bottles in front of an oil derrick to coincide with talks on eliminating plastic waste.

Canadian artist Benjamin Von Wong said his 5-metre-high work by the River Seine showed the link between fossil fuels and plastic pollution, which could triple in the next four decades.

With only about 9% of waste recycled from 460 million tonnes of plastic produced each year, the UN-organised Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-2) aims for a legally-binding pact to eliminate more.

“If we do not act, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans,” French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna tweeted on Saturday, quoting the United Nations.

France hosted a launching ceremony for the talks on Saturday. Technical discussions will run Monday-Friday.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said last year that global plastic waste could triple by 2060. But the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) said this month that countries could reduce it 80% by 2040 using existing technologies and making major policy changes.

“We hope this machine will serve as an unflinching visual reminder of the urgency of this issue,” artist Von Wong said, according to Greenpeace’s website.

Paris also saw protests on Friday by climate campaigners at the annual general meeting of TotalEnergies.

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