IPEN International Pollutants Elimination Network

Experts sound the alarm on toxic chemicals ahead of plastic treaty negotiations

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Negotiators from around the world will convene in Paris next week to continue working on a legally binding global treaty to address the plastics crisis. In this second of five rounds of talks, there will be much to discuss, including basic agenda items like the rules governing the negotiations. But for many who will be attending, one issue seems to have risen to the top of the priority list: toxic chemicals.

“We’ve seen a narrative shift” since the first negotiating session, said Bjorn Beeler, general manager and international coordinator for the International Pollutants Elimination Network, or IPEN, a coalition of public health and environmental groups. Once seen primarily as a litter problem, plastics are increasingly being recognized as a blend of hazardous chemicals that need to be controlled and phased out, he said.

“The plastics crisis … is a chemicals crisis,” Beeler added.

On Wednesday, Greenpeace, IPEN and The Last Beach Cleanup published a report claiming that “recycling plastics = recycling toxic chemicals.” The report synthesizes an extensive body of research showing how chemicals accumulate in recycled plastic products, whether from toxics-laden virgin material that is deliberately recycled, or from unintentional contamination in the waste stream. A recent analysis from IPEN, for example, found a hazardous plastic additive in every recycled plastic children’s toy and hair accessory it examined.

Read the full story from Grist.