Plastic pollution: final stretch for a draft treaty, industrialists are resisting

This Friday, in Paris, is the last day of this second round of international negotiations to develop a treaty against plastic pollution that poisons nature and human health. The 175 States represented could discuss until late at night this Friday given the delay accumulated at the beginning of the week with the tense debates around the procedure.

Mountains of plastic waste in Karachi, Pakistan, June 4, 2022. © Fareed Khan/AP

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All this week at UNESCO, NGOs, scientists, but also plastic lobbyists have put forward their views to States. Industrialists who have to lose if the treaty is ever ambitious. "We are part of the problem, but also part of the solution," says Jean-Yves Daclin. This week, the head of the French branch of Plastics Europe, formerly of Total Energies, followed the negotiations, exchanged with States. Objective: to make the interests of plastic resin manufacturers, present in Europe, heard. They account for 15% of the world market.

There is no question, for example, of all single-use plastics being banned. They want on a case-by-case basis: "Rather than an arbitrary ban, which can have counterproductive impacts, we believe that problematic and useless applications must be tackled, depending on the situation in each country," suggests Jean-Yves Daclin at the microphone of Lucile Gimberg of the Science Department. . For example, today in Europe it is forbidden to produce and use plastic cotton swabs, single-use tableware, but this is not an ideological approach, it is a practical approach. You're not going to ban the use of single-use plastic in hospitals, for example.


The lobbyist insists: the industry is already making efforts, with lighter, more recyclable plastics...

Read also: for Nathalie Gontard, researcher, research director at the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) plastic recycling is a "false promise"

We are far from the target, retorts Delphine Lévi-Alvarès, of the Center for International Environmental Law: "We do not see a commitment to reduce production, since it is against commercial interests. We also have relatively few commitments on the issues of simplification of plastics produced and detoxification of plastics produced. And then, no taking responsibility for pollution upstream.


#INC2 Day 4 mood 🙃

Surprisingly, we still have to explain that we can't end #PlasticPollution (resolution 5/14 mandate) without reducing production 🤷🏼

♀️Apparently it goes against the #FossilFuel companies & economies interests 🫠 #sarcasm #PlasticsTreaty #BreakFreeFromPlastic

— Delphine Lévi Alvarès (she/her) (@delphinelevialv) June 1, 2023 And for now, the investments announced indicate that plastic production will triple by 2060. ► Read also: African countries plead for an aid fund and more audacity

A first draft of an international treaty against plastic pollution

Controlling the production, consumption and end-of-life of plastics is the heart of this draft text. Because global plastic production has spiraled out of control, exceeding 450 million tonnes per year and is expected to triple by 2060. African countries, major importers of this material, but without the technical means to manage plastic waste, are struggling to keep up with this rapid development.

This text called "draft zero" therefore proposes a cap to limit manufacturing. The objective, explains one observer, is not to put manufacturers and oil-producing countries in difficulty, but to find alternatives to this disposable material, for example by favouring products based on wood or plants.

Other options in this text are aimed at eliminating the use of substances considered dangerous. This is not insignificant for the African continent, given that waste is mainly managed by an informal sector, where collectors are often exposed to toxic components.

Read also: "We will reach an agreement and it must be ambitious"

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