UN Global Compact to Combat Plastic Waste to Be Developed Next Week

UN Global Compact to Combat Plastic Waste to Be Developed Next Week

An ambitious global treaty to end plastic waste is set to be hammered out next week at a key meeting.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), said that negotiations on a global plastics pact are underway in Nairobi.

The treaty “has the potential and promises to be the biggest multilateral environmental breakthrough” since the signing of the Paris climate accords in 2015.

Andersen’s comments follow an OECD study released earlier this week that found that only 9 percent of plastic is currently recycled.

Inger Andersen said a global plastics deal is being negotiated in Nairobi. "has the potential and promises to be the biggest multilateral environmental breakthrough" since the signing of the Paris Climate Accords in 2015.

Inger Andersen said the global plastics deal being negotiated in Nairobi “has the potential to be the biggest multilateral environmental breakthrough” since the signing of the Paris Climate Accords in 2015.

A monument to Canadian activist and artist Benjamin von Wong on the theme of

A monument to Canadian activist and artist Benjamin von Wong on the theme of “Cut off the plastic faucet” using waste recovered from Nairobi’s largest slum, Kibera, stands outside the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Program in Nairobi.

The world has a rare opportunity to clean up the planet for future generations by coming together around an ambitious plastic waste treaty, the UN environmental chief told AFP.

The world has a rare opportunity to clean up the planet for future generations by coming together around an ambitious plastic waste treaty, the UN environmental chief told AFP.

ONLY 9 PER CENT OF PLASTIC IS RECYCLED IN THE WORLD: OECD

On Tuesday, the OECD said that only 9% of the plastic used in the world is recycled.

The report says that 460 million tons of plastic were used in 2019, almost doubling since 2000.

According to the Paris OECD, the amount of plastic waste has more than doubled since then to 353 million tonnes.

“Including recycling losses, only nine percent of plastic waste was ultimately recycled, 19 percent was incinerated, and almost 50 percent ended up in sanitary landfills,” the Global Plastics Outlook report says.

“The other 22 percent was thrown into uncontrolled landfills, burned in quarries or leaked into the environment.”

The OECD has called for “coordinated and global solutions” ahead of expected negotiations on an international plastics deal.

They also precede the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, which will begin next Monday, 28 February, and run until 2 March.

It will bring together representatives from 193 UN member states, business, civil society and other stakeholders “to agree on policies to address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.”

The world has a rare opportunity to clean up the planet for future generations by coming together around an ambitious deal to fight plastic waste, Andersen told AFP.

“This is an important point; it’s for the history books,” she said. “We can’t recycle our way out of this mess. It is clear.

“We need to understand that plastic is a part of our lives – we use it in construction, in medicine, where we need it. But we also use it where we don’t.”

Andersen spoke of “topping off the plastic faucet,” referring to the striking art installation located outside UNEP headquarters in Nairobi.

Created by Canadian activist and artist Benjamin Von Wong, it features plastic waste excavated from Nairobi’s largest slum, Kibera, flowing from a giant water faucet.

“Closing the plastic faucet is critical… If you keep polluting here and cleaning up there, it’s a lifetime job,” said Andersen, who was named head of UNEP in 2019.

She added that “the world is watching with concern, but also with hope.”

“For the first time in history, we are seeing an unprecedented global momentum to tackle plastic pollution.”

The world has a rare opportunity to clean up the planet for future generations by coming together around an ambitious plastic waste treaty, the UN environmental chief told AFP.  Pictured are processors scouring a sanitary landfill in Richmond looking for material.

The world has a rare opportunity to clean up the planet for future generations by coming together around an ambitious plastic waste treaty, the UN environmental chief told AFP. Pictured are processors scouring a sanitary landfill in Richmond looking for material.

The framework for a legally binding agreement on plastics is still being developed ahead of the UN Environment Summit starting Monday in Nairobi, where UNEP is headquartered.

Competing proposals are being considered, but more than 50 countries have backed calls for an agreement that includes tough new controls on plastics, which are mostly made from oil and gas.

This could include restrictions on the production of new plastics or phasing out disposable products that litter the oceans and marine life and take centuries to decompose.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is interviewed at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi ahead of the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5)

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is interviewed at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi ahead of the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5)

A SARDINE MINT IS PLASTIC THE SIZE OF A RICE GRAIN

Microplastics were found inside every sample of seafood purchased from the market as part of the study.

The researchers cut up oysters, shrimp, crabs, squid and sardines and examined them for signs of microplastics.

Sardines were found to be the hardest hit and ingested the most plastic, up to 30mg per serving – the weight of a grain of rice.

Microplastics are tiny particles less than five millimeters (0.2 inches) long. The health effects of people ingesting these particles remain a mystery.

Binding goals and a common structure will ensure a level playing field so that countries and corporations can be sure they are playing by the same rules, Andersen said.

Many countries, including major plastic producers such as the US and China, have expressed general support for the treaty but have not publicly supported any specific measures.

Delegates assembled in Nairobi are expected to agree on a common template for a treaty and set up a negotiating committee to finalize the terms, a process that will take at least two years.

Andersen said it was too early to speculate on the specific details of the treaty, but stressed that it was “hopeless” to try to curb plastic trash without going to the source.

Plastic is found in the deepest parts of the ocean, on the highest mountain peaks, in human organs, and on remote and uninhabited islands.

About 400 million tons of new plastic are produced each year, and by 2040 this figure will double.

While less than 10 percent of plastic is recycled, the rest is incinerated or thrown onto land, where it often ends up in rivers, runs into the sea and drifts around the world.

Large pieces of plastic are dangerous for marine mammals and birds, but even when this substance breaks down into microparticles under the influence of the sea.

These particles are in turn taken up by small organisms and passed up the food chain to fish or shellfish, which are in turn eaten by humans.

The curse of plastic: A heavily polluted beach in Hann Bay, a densely populated area of ​​Senegal's capital Dakar.

The curse of plastic: A heavily polluted beach in Hann Bay, a densely populated area of ​​Senegal’s capital Dakar.

Special multilateral agreements to combat biodiversity loss and climate change have been in place for nearly 30 years.

However, there is currently no equivalent to combat plastic pollution, which is “one of the most widespread and destructive environmental pollutants in existence,” the Environmental Research Agency (EIA) said last month.

UNEP also said earlier this week in a report that extreme wildfires could increase by up to 50% by 2100 as global temperatures rise.

A warming planet and changes in land use mean that more wildfires will engulf much of the globe in the coming decades, even though our planet is already “on fire,” the report said.

UN WARNING EXTREME FOREST FIRES COME TO INCREASE BY 50% BY 2100 AS GLOBAL TEMPERATURES RISE

A new UN study warns that extreme wildfires could increase by 50 percent by 2100 due to rising global temperatures.

A report published February 23 by the United Nations Environment Program notes an increased risk even for the Arctic and other regions not previously affected by wildfires.

A warming planet and changes in land use mean that more wildfires will engulf much of the globe in the coming decades, even though our planet is already “on fire,” the report said.

Global wildfires will lead to outbreaks of unhealthy smoke pollution and other problems that governments are not prepared to deal with, he adds.

Inhalation of smoke from wildfires directly causes respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as other health problems, especially in the most vulnerable populations.

The report coincides with wildfires in the Argentinean province of Corrientes that have devastated nearly 1.98 million acres, and follows wildfires in Colorado’s Boulder County that began in late December.

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