According to the United Nations, plastics production has grown from two million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017. In the process, it has become a global industry worth $522.6 billion. It is estimated that its capacity will double by 2040. Heads of state, environment ministers and other representatives from 175 countries at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in Nairobi adopted a resolution to end plastic pollution and develop an international legally binding agreement by 2024. The resolution covers the entire life cycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal. “Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly is showing multilateral cooperation at its best,” said UNEA-5 President and Norwegian Minister for Climate and Environment Espen Barth Eide.
An Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) is to be set up this year to present a draft for a globally legally binding agreement by the end of 2024. In addition to the life cycle of plastics, this should take into account the development of reusable and recyclable products and materials as well as the need for increased international cooperation to regulate access to corresponding technologies, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation. Once the INC has completed its work, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is then expected to convene a conference to adopt the outcomes and release them for signature. “Today marks a triumph for planet Earth over single-use plastic. This is the most significant multilateral environmental agreement since the Paris Agreement. It is an insurance policy for this and future generations to live with plastic and not be condemned by it,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
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