IPEN International Pollutants Elimination Network

Nations meet to strike plastic pollution treaty

a woman recycling worker sitting in a pile of plastic e-waste, DW logo in foreground

More than 145 countries are hoping to hammer out a Plastics Treaty by 2025, with Norway co-leading the High Ambition Coalition in the talks.

But environmental groups are warning that the talks are too focused on recycling instead of reducing the production of plastic in the first place. Environmental group Greenpeace is calling for production to be slashed by 75% compared to 2017 levels, because recycling most types of plastic, which are made from fossil fuels, remains extremely difficult. Some environmental groups criticized a recent UNEP report for focusing on waste management, which they saw as a concession to the global plastics and petrochemicals industry.

“Real solutions to the plastics crisis will require global controls on chemicals in plastics and significant reductions in plastic production,” said Therese Karlsson, science advisor with the International Pollutants Elimination Network. Plastic recycling inadvertently perpetuates toxic chemicals, according to recent IPEN research.

The US has been accused of parroting the demands of lobby groups such as the American Chemical Council (ACC) to keep the focus on recycling and to limit controls, and was also criticized for its support of individual countries voluntarily determining their own contribution to reducing pollution.

Leaving it up to individual countries would be unfair to regions like Latin America and Africa that don’t manufacture much plastic or chemicals, said Bjorn Beeler, international coordinator of the Sweden-based International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN). “A national approach (as in the) climate model (instead of binding global rules) would be a failure because you can’t really handle a global problem at a national level,” said Beeler.

Read the full story from Deutsch Welle.