International coalition pushes for a global agreement against plastic litter
At the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi in March, it was agreed to start negotiations on an international legally binding instrument against plastic pollution of the environment. To drive implementation of the UNEA resolution, a group of countries including Germany initiated the international “High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution” (HAC) at the end of August.
A total of 30 countries are participating in the initiative, of which Germany is also a member. The coalition, which aims to end environmental pollution caused by the improper disposal of plastic waste by 2040, is chaired by Norway and Rwanda. The initiative is motivated by OECD projections that plastic consumption will increase significantly in the coming decades, more than doubling by 2060. As a result of the increased consumption of plastics, the quantity of plastics in rivers, lakes and oceans is also expected to increase significantly, they said.
The HAC countries are therefore committed to developing an ambitious international legally binding instrument based on a comprehensive and circular approach, which provides for measures and intervention along the entire life cycle of plastics. At the start of the negotiations on the global treaty on plastics, the HAC formulated three strategic objectives:
- Plastic consumption and production should be reduced to a sustainable level,
- a circular economy should be established for plastics and
- environmentally sound management of plastic waste should be ensured.
Among the most important results the coalition has formulated as being indicative of the success of the global legal agreement are the "elimination of problematic plastics, also through bans and restrictions," the "development of global sustainability criteria and standards for plastics," and the "fixing of global base values and targets for sustainability throughout the life cycle of plastics." The legally binding tool is also intended to ensure "transparency in the value chain of plastics with regard to material and chemical composition." Commenting on the HAC coalition, German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke says: "The littering of the oceans by vast quantities of plastic is a huge environmental problem that harms animal and plant life, as well as humans. With like-minded countries, we have already worked hard in Nairobi to take an important, globally coordinated step against the flood of plastics: a mandate for an intergovernmental negotiating group to negotiate an agreement to reduce marine litter and pollution within a few years. With this initiative, we are now pursuing this with the same vigour, taking the activities of like-minded states to a new level."
In March, the European and German plastics industries had explicitly endorsed the UNEA's global agreement, welcoming decisive measures that expressly strengthen the recycling and product design of plastics as the right answers to the plastic waste problem. In order to create a level playing field and equal conditions for the development of new circular business models and make a circular economy a reality in practice, the industry believes that targets, standards, norms as well as monitoring measures are now needed for the entire life cycle of plastics. Here, BKV has laid an important foundation stone with the development of the model on input pathways into the oceans. In addition, the commitment to standardisation in the field of plastics and the environment will be continued.
- bmuv.de (22.8.2022)
- umweltwirtschaft.com (22.8.2022)
- Photo: © UNEA