Global Push To Stop Plastic Pollution Enters Third Round

The third round of talks among UN Member States is slated to begin in Kenya on Monday, to finalize a universally binding agreement to markedly decrease Plastic Pollution.

The goal is to create a worldwide binding agreement with the potential to reduce the deleterious effects of plastic pollution on both the environment and human health.

Plastics Europe, the Plastics Manufacturers’ Association, discloses that global plastic production in 2022 hit 400.3 million metric tons, marking a two-fold surge since 2002.

Although there has been a growth in the utilization of bio-based and recycled materials, over 90 percent of the total is still derived from petroleum-based sources.The major concern revolves around the life cycle of plastic because, once produced, it takes centuries to decompose.

The goal of the agreement was to define binding measures for the entire life cycle of plastics, from the quantities in which individual materials are produced to the design of plastic products and the disposal and recycling of plastic waste.

According to scientific analysis, 76 percent of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2018 was either disposed of in landfill sites or released into the environment.

Every year, an estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste is thought to enter the oceans.

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It poses a threat to ecosystems there, whether in the form of tiny particles, known as microplastics, or by releasing toxic chemicals.

A report from the UN Environment Programme suggests that global plastic pollution could see an 80 percent reduction by the year 2040.

Representatives from more than 170 countries at the United Nations, in March 2022, committed to pursuing an agreement focused on addressing the challenges associated with plastic.

The objective of the agreement was to outline binding measures that span the entire life cycle of plastics, encompassing the production quantities of individual materials, the design of plastic products, and the disposal and recycling of plastic waste.

After discussions in Uruguay and France, the ongoing round of negotiations in Kenya marks the third out of five.

The agreement is expected to be finalized at a summit of states in mid-2025; however, there is still a significant distance to cover before reaching that stage.

The central idea from negotiators is not to demonize or ban plastic. The agreement should determine whether and to what extent the production of various plastics should be restricted and by what means this restriction should be carried out.

The agreement would regulate the use of particularly harmful chemical components.

It would also deal with the handling of plastic waste both in individual countries and across national borders, as well as the collection and reuse of recyclable materials.

Financing and accountability mechanisms also need to be clarified.

Many fundamental questions are still unanswered, such as what is actually covered by the scope of the agreement because the colloquial term plastic encompasses many different types of plastic.

There is a divergence of opinions on the issue of legally binding targets and the extent to which production will be limited.

Countries with abundant oil resources, in particular, aim to emphasize recycling processes rather than enforcing restrictions on production.

Conflicting interests arise, particularly in financing, as developing and emerging countries anticipate assistance from industrialized nations to bear the financial burden.

Africa Today News, New York

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