IPEN International Pollutants Elimination Network

Disagreements and tempers surge ahead of UN plastics meeting

a white glove with a large handful of black plastic pellets, C&EN logo in the foreground

Tensions are running high as representatives from the plastics industry, advocacy groups, and governmental organizations from around the world head to Paris for a meeting of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on plastic pollution. The meeting, INC-2, takes place May 29–​June 2.

Advocacy groups are criticizing a recent UNEP report for including two controversial options to get rid of plastic waste: chemical recycling, which is breaking down plastic materials into chemical components for reuse, and burning plastics as fuel in cement kilns.

“It’s a very disturbing report on several levels,” says Bjorn Beeler, international coordinator for the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN). He says the report promotes chemical recycling, which is inappropriate because it goes against the findings of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. 

Beeler also noted that the INC-2 is critically important because it serves to organize what the UN calls a “zero draft” of the treaty, and that member organizations this week will go over potential options for what the treaty should include and discuss the scope and ultimate objective of the treaty, he says.

Read the full story from Chemical and Engineering News.