UN talks on treaty to end global plastic pollution open in Paris

PARIS (AP) — A United Nations committee is meeting Monday in Paris to work on what should be a landmark treaty to end global plastic pollution, but there is no agreement yet on what should be. the result.

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastics is tasked with developing the first legally binding international treaty on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. This is the second of five meetings that must take place to complete the negotiations by the end of 2024.

At the first meeting, held six months ago in Uruguay, some countries pushed for global mandates, some for national solutions and some for both.

Humanity produces more than 430 million tonnes of plastic a year, two-thirds of which are short-lived products that quickly become waste, filling the ocean and often making their way up the human food chain. , the United Nations Environment Program said in April. . According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, plastic waste generated worldwide is expected to nearly triple by 2060, with around half ending up in landfills and less than a fifth recycled.

As this is a short deadline for treaty negotiations, experts say crucial decisions are being made about the objectives at this meeting.

The treaty could focus on human health and the environment, as the so-called “high ambition coalition” of countries, led by Norway and Rwanda, wants with limits on plastic production and restrictions on some of the chemicals used in plastics, eg. The coalition has pledged to put in place a legally binding international instrument to end plastic pollution by 2040. It says this is necessary to protect human health and the environment while helping to restore biodiversity and to curb climate change.

Alternatively, the treaty could have a more limited scope to deal with plastic waste and scale up recycling, as some plastic producers and oil and gas exporters want. Most plastics are made from fossil fuels. The countries that support this plan are the United States, Saudi Arabia and China. The US delegation to Uruguay said national plans would allow governments to prioritize the most important sources and types of plastic pollution. Many plastics and chemical companies also want this approach, with a plastic waste treaty that prioritizes recycling.

The International Council of Chemical Associations, the World Plastics Council, the American Chemistry Council and other companies that make, use and recycle plastics say they want a deal that eliminates plastic pollution while “maintaining the societal benefits of plastics” . They call themselves the “Global Partners for the Circularity of Plastics”. They say modern plastic materials are used around the world to create essential and often life-saving products, many of which are essential to a more sustainable, low-carbon future.

Björn Beeler is present at the meeting as the international coordinator of the International Pollutants Elimination Network, or IPEN. He said the countries must come up with a plan by the end of this week to draft a first draft of the text of the treaty so that it can be negotiated at the third meeting.

“If there’s no text to negotiate, you just keep sharing ideas,” he said. “Then, because of the schedule, we might consider an early failure.”

Beeler said the talks are “a unique opportunity for a global conversation to change the trajectory of plastic production growth.” IPEN wants a treaty that limits chemicals used to make plastic that are harmful to human health and the environment, he added.


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