UN conference on reducing plastic waste in Paris

Status: 05/29/2023 4:10 p.m

A five-day UN conference on reducing plastic waste has started in Paris. At the beginning there were urgent appeals to act. Otherwise, plastic waste threatens to triple by 2060, warned French President Macron.

UN negotiations for an international plastics deal have started in Paris with urgent calls for action. French President Emmanuel Macron warned in a video message that plastic waste poses a threat to human health, biodiversity and climate goals. “Plastic pollution is a ticking time bomb and is already a scourge,” he said.

If we don’t act, plastic waste will triple by 2060. The priority must be to reduce the production of plastics and to ban the most environmentally harmful products such as single-use plastics “as soon as possible”. “In the future, all plastic on the market must be fully recyclable,” said Macron. He also called for an end to the export of plastic waste from industrialized countries to countries in the Global South.

The G7 ministers have agreed on an earlier timetable in the fight against plastic waste.

“A Global Danger to the Environment”

“Our countries, our soil, our water, our air and even our bodies are affected by plastic,” warned the chairman of the International Negotiating Committee, Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez. “Plastic pollution is everywhere. It knows no borders and poses a global threat to the environment and our health.”

The challenge is huge, according to Velásquez – “but it is not insurmountable.” The problem can only be solved together. A fair and effective, legally binding agreement is needed that guarantees that garbage is only the last resort.

The head of the UN environment program, Inger Andersen, warned that disposable plastic is suffocating ecosystems. But it is also true that “we cannot free ourselves from this mess by recycling”.

Whoever causes the garbage should contribute to the disposal costs.

Five negotiation rounds until 2024

United Nations member states aim to end plastic pollution by 2040. The Paris meeting is the second round of intergovernmental negotiations for such a global agreement. A total of five rounds of negotiations are planned up to 2024.

UN member states as well as non-governmental organisations, scientists and trade unions will take part in the meeting in Paris. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke from Germany was in Paris last week for talks to prepare the negotiations.

disagreements expected

The consultations are expected to last until Friday. A ban on single-use plastic products and the application of the polluter-pays principle are being discussed.

However, major differences of opinion among the participating States are likely to complicate the deliberations. A so-called High Ambition coalition of 50 countries including the EU, Rwanda, Norway, Canada, Chile and since Friday also Japan wants to reduce the production volumes of plastic. Other countries with large petrochemical industries such as China, the USA and Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, only want to tackle the problem with recycling and waste management.

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