First meeting on global rules reveals discord / 50-country bloc demands lower resin output, bans for some grades / Industry role in negotiations criticised / Next talks due in May
After setting the groundwork for an ambitious attempt at global lawmaking at the end of last year in Uruguay, parties involved in the creation of a UN treaty for the reduction of plastics waste are hardening their positions ahead of second-round talks scheduled for the spring.

December’s negotiations followed the UN Environment Assembly’s March 2022 decision to create worldwide guidelines to cut plastics waste by the end of next year (PIE 07.03.2022). But the UN wants an “internationally legally binding instrument”, to fight the spread of pollution, something that may already be in danger after the initial discussions in Uruguay, where countries failed to agree if the rules should be worldwide requirements, or voluntary and matters for individual countries.

Despite the rift, a group of 50 countries and the EU that wants unified global rules is pushing on with its demands for the treaty, which include requirements to cut virgin resin output and end the manufacturing of some polymers.

Related: European Parliament votes for stricter plastics waste shipment rules

In mid-February, the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution (https://hactoendplasticpollution.org) unveiled proposals for the May talks in Paris, which include a stipulation for countries to “take effective measures to reduce the production of primary plastics polymers to an agreed level to reach a common target.” The group also called for a ban on the manufacturing of resins and additives that “have long term adverse effects on human health and the environment and/or create barriers for the recycling of plastic waste”.

Countries and companies continue to argue about how the proposed global UN treaty should cut plastics waste (Photo: PantherMedia/KareplaStock)
Battle lines have been drawn
In opposition to the coalition and other countries calling for mandatory global guidelines stand the US and Saudi Arabia, both home to major resin producers. A US official said America wants a “country-driven global agreement”, with the Saudis citing the need for a solution “based on national circumstances”.

Greenpeace criticised industry’s influence on the talks. “Plastics producers are given the same consideration as communities suffering from their products, and scientists are sounding the alarm. Plastics treaty negotiations cannot be co-opted by welcoming oil and plastics industry lobbyists to dominate the discussion and weaken ambition. If the plastic industry has its way, plastic production could double within the next 10-15 years, and triple by 2050.”

The prospect of a tough road ahead for the treaty seems to be serving as a catalyst for the creation of alliances. Membership in the High Ambition Coalition has grown rapidly since its creation last year (PIE 29.08.2022) and last month, three international groups announced plans to share information from their individual programmes for cutting plastics use.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP; www.globalplasticaction.org), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Plastics Initiative, and international climate action NGO Wrap (https://wrap.org.uk) are said to share a common vision for a circular economy for plastics. Each has been running national-level initiatives, and the trio now operate them in more than 20 countries.

The knowledge exchange network will bring together individual Plastics Pacts and National Plastic Action Partnerships (NPAP) to disseminate crucial information from those taking action on the ground, the groups said. Such programmes are currently underway in Australia, New Zealand, a number of Pacific islands, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Europe, France, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, the UK, the US, and Vietnam.
15.02.2023 Plasteurope.com [251931-0]
Published on 15.02.2023

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Date of print: 01.06.2023 09:52:51   (Ref: 1071463173)
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