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by Alexander Fäh

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Nations Progress on Treaty to Combat Plastic Pollution: Negotiations Highlight Progress and Disagreements

  • Nations are negotiating a global treaty to reduce plastic pollution, with limiting plastic production as a central point of contention.

  • Delegates agreed to continue discussions on the treaty, focusing on financing, chemical regulation, and product design.

  • Despite disagreements, countries share a common goal of combatting plastic pollution and protecting future generations.


Global Talks on Plastic Regulation: Advancements and Controversies.

Plastic pollution is a global issue that requires attention.
Plastic pollution is a global issue that requires attention.

In the latest negotiations in Canada, nations made strides towards a treaty to end plastic pollution, despite sharp disagreements over whether to impose global limits on plastic production.

For the first time, negotiators discussed the text of a future global treaty. Delegates and observers at the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution welcomed the shift from ideas to treaty language, marking progress at this fourth of five scheduled meetings.

The most contentious issue remains the idea of limiting plastic manufacturing. This remains in the text despite strong objections from plastic-producing countries, companies, and oil and gas exporters. Since most plastic is derived from fossil fuels and chemicals, regulating plastic production is at the heart of the debate.

As the Ottawa session concluded, the committee agreed to continue working on the treaty before its final meeting later this year in South Korea.

Preparations for that session will focus on financing the treaty's implementation, assessing chemicals of concern in plastic products, and examining product design. A representative from Rwanda criticized negotiators for not addressing plastic production, calling it the "elephant in the room."

"In the end, this is not just about the text, it's not just about the process," said Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, executive secretary of the committee. "It is quite simply about providing a better future for generations and for our loved ones."

Stewart Harris, a spokesperson for the International Council of Chemical Associations, emphasized their desire for a treaty focused on recycling and reuse, known as "circularity." They oppose a cap on plastic production and believe chemicals should not be regulated through this agreement. Harris welcomed governments' agreement to complete additional work, especially on financing and plastic product design.


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