History Made: Governments Move Towards a Legally Binding Plastics Treaty at UNEA-5.2
The United Nations Environment Assembly adopts the proposal to create a mandate addressing plastic pollution at every stage and recognizes role of informal waste workers during its fifth session in Nairobi (UNEA 5.2)
MANILA— The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the #breakfreefromplastic movement welcome the adoption of the landmark mandate calling for the development of a global plastics treaty which was adopted during the resumed fifth session of United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2).
The mandate titled, “End plastic pollution: Towards an international legally binding instrument”, opens the negotiating table for governments to come up with a legally binding treaty that covers the entire life cycle of plastic.
This treaty, which is urgently needed to address the plastic crisis at a global scale, is expected to be developed and finalized over the next two years, led by the International Negotiating Committee (INC).
If plastic production and use continue to grow at its current rate, its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 could be equivalent to the emissions of more than 295 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants. At this rate, emissions throughout the plastics life cycle threatens any possibility of meeting global climate targets. Moreover, plastic pollution goes beyond national borders. Toxic plastic particles contaminate water, air, and the food chain, ultimately harming human health.
Advocacy groups across Asia Pacific reiterate the call for a Global Plastics Treaty that:
- addresses the full lifecycle of plastics and its impacts
- integrates the voices and experiences of waste pickers
- provides accessible and transparent data on plastic production
- enforces strong Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) with clear upstream targets
- has clear language against false solutions such as incineration, chemical recycling, among others.
“We are elated that the contribution of informal waste workers is finally being recognized by this governing body,” Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia Pacific Coordinator, said. “This is an important milestone. Our members and communities have shown for years how critical their role is in achieving Zero Waste. .“ We hope that this opens the door for more discussions on their livelihood, protection, and security
Ahead of UNEA 5.2, more than two hundred environmental groups in the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) movement and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in Asia Pacific, and over 1 million people across the world, urged their respective governments to support the call towards a legally binding plastics treaty that covers not only marine plastic pollution but the full life cycle of plastics—from extraction, production, use, and disposal to remediation.
Quotes from environmental organizations and leading experts can be accessed here.