The Story Behind “The Giant Plastic Tap” at UNEA 5.2
UNEA delegates are currently on the ground in Nairobi, Kenya negotiating over a monumental global plastics treaty. Prior to the meeting, 185 countries stated support for adopting a new treaty, and representatives are reporting a positive attitude and "great ambiance" as negotiations continue.
In recent days, many of the negotiators have had their attention captured by a 40-foot tall tap spewing all forms of plastic matter onto the grounds of the United Nations' building.
The exhibition is essentially unmissable to participants in the UNEA 5.2 talks. Delegates walk directly by it everyday on the way to work - a stark reminder of the gravity of the ocean plastics issue and the importance of coming to a global agreement on as soon as possible.
Meet the artist
The artist behind the chaotic image is Benjamin Von Wong (website here). Throughout his work over the past few years, Von Wong has worked with plastic to make unforgettable statements about the crisis at hand. His vocation has taken him all over the world, and has finally landed him in Nairobi with one of his biggest installments yet. The #GiantPlasticTap!
Von Wong has invited OPLN's NGO members to use images of the exhibit for free.
Andrés Del Castillo, a Senior Attorney for Plastic Pollution at UNEA 5.2, had this to say about The Tap:
"The ongoing discussions on the #plasticstreaty last until 3:15 am. A really active participation from member States...
Then the moon of Nairobi was waiting for us."
While the image is worth a thousand words, the background of the Giant Plastic Tap is a great story in itself. Von Wong is working with the Human Needs Project (HNP)- an organization seeking to address the lack of basic services in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. HNP has purchased large volumes of plastics from informal waste workers and created additional jobs for workers displaced by COVID by employing them to help clean plastic for use in the exhibit.
HNP and Von Wong also launched a fundraiser to create permanent recycling jobs in Kibera, announcing on Twitter that by Feb 22, they had already raised $60,000 towards training and wages for jobs in the reuse sector.
Ben and the HNP hope that these jobs will empower the 500,000 residents of Kibera to get rid of plastic waste, accelerate reuse systems, and provide microfinancing and training to help the community. OPLN is proud to have Ben on our team as a Creative Advisor.
Now let's go get a global plastics treaty!!!