“UN Summit on Plastic Pollution: Global Agreement & Solutions for a Sustainable Future”

2023-05-28 10:01:00

From May 29th to June 2nd, the UN, scientists, NGOs and trade unions will sit at one table to tackle the problem of plastic waste. There are quite different goals.

Large amounts of plastic waste are a burden on the ecosystem and human health. The United Nations want to put an end to this with a binding global agreement against plastic pollution. This will be discussed in Paris from Whit Monday. Environmentalists, the plastics industry and oil-producing countries are pursuing very different goals.

A convention with binding rules and measures that affect the entire life cycle of plastic is to be drawn up by 2024. The UN desire is to massively curb environmental pollution from plastic waste by 2040.

Plastic pollution could be reduced by 80 percent by 2040

The Paris meeting, which runs from May 29 to June 2, is the second of five intergovernmental rounds of negotiations for a global agreement. UN member states, non-governmental organisations, scientists and trade unions take part. After the first round of negotiations in Uruguay in December, environmentalists drew a positive balance, but also noted that opponents of an agreement were already forming.

According to a report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), global plastic pollution could be reduced by 80 percent by 2040. All resources are already available for this. The prerequisite for this, however, are far-reaching political and market-economy changes towards a circular economy. According to scientists, the effects of the plastic residues, which often end up in microscopic size in the soil, in water and on the organism of humans and animals, have not yet been researched.

400 million tons of plastic waste every year

Before the UN conference in Paris, the environmental protection organization Greenpeace insisted on an ambitious agreement. The production of plastic must be reduced by 75 percent and ultimately the plastic age must be ended. “Plastic harms human health, accelerates social injustice, destroys biodiversity and fuels the climate crisis,” it said in a statement. 400 million tons of plastic waste are produced worldwide every year.

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Together with more than 150 organizations and scientists, Greenpeace called on UNEP to ensure that the global plastic agreement is not jeopardized by the influence of the fossil and petrochemical industries. Because the member states showed very different ambitions: while oil-producing states such as Saudi Arabia propagated bogus solutions such as chemical recycling, other countries are committed to limiting plastic production.

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