Results of the second round of negotiations to address the problems of plastic pollutionFeatured
The second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC 2) aimed to develop a legally binding global treaty to solve the problems of plastic pollution ended in Paris on June 2.
There were many issues at the beginning of the work of the INC. In particular, the meeting was significantly delayed by some countries trying to agree on a consensus in the rules of procedure to block ambitious provisions in the Treaty during the follow-up work.
Nevertheless, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) agreed on some critical points to move forward:
- The INC chair received broad authority to prepare a zero draft based on the views expressed by member states and observers at INC1 and INC2.
- Observers (by 15 August) and governments (by 15 September) are able to share their views on principles and scope of the Treaty.
- INC will hold a pre-meeting to discuss principles and scope based on the submissions from governments and observers.
- Regional meetings will convene back to back with the regional meetings in preparation for the Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
- Two contact groups were established during INC2:
Contact Group 1 (CG1) discussed the legally binding elements of the future Treaty;
Contact Group 2 (CG2) discussed implementation measures.
CG 1 began with a discussion of the Goal of the future treaty. The majority supported Option A: End plastic pollution; protect human health and the environment from its harmful effects throughout the life cycle of plastic.
In its intervention, HEJSupport also representing SSNC, groundWorkSA and the UN Women’s Major Group, stressed that the Goal of the future treaty should include the following additions: Mindful of the precautionary approach, end plastic pollution, including chemical components; protect human health and the environment from its harmful effects throughout the life cycle of plastic; and ensure human rights, justice, fairness and equity.
CG1 participants supported the importance of chemical management in plastics. Many advocated for a global approach to the problem rather than one based on national legislation. In addition, many countries supported transparency measures to track chemicals in plastics.
This position by countries resulted from tremendous work done by nongovernmental organizations. In discussions with countries at INC 1 and INC 2, HEJSupport, SSNC, and groundWorkSA, supported by more than 40 other NGOs and big networks, emphasized that plastic pollution is not just physical. It causes chemical contamination of people, wildlife and the environment.
Plastic contains more than 10,000 different chemicals, more than a quarter known as toxic chemicals that threaten human health and the environment. The lack of information about these substances in plastic materials, products, and waste prevents consumers and recyclers from making informed decisions. As a result, plastic recycling produces contaminated plastic pellets as basic materials for new products. Thus, instead of a clean circular economy, plastic recycling contributes to the contamination of new goods with hazardous substances, environmental emissions, and the risk of various diseases among the public and workers in the recycling and manufacturing industries caused by exposure to these substances.
According to non-governemntal organizations, the Plastic Treaty should be based on the principle of a legally binding requirement to disclose information about the content of toxic substances in plastic. The approach to providing such information should be legally binding and globally harmonized, allowing all countries to receive the information regardless of how advanced their national laws are or how technically prepared they are to identify toxic substances in plastics.
In addition, chemical information in plastics should be tracked in individual products. Traceability requirements should also be legally binding and globally harmonised to ensure informed decisionmaking for plastic manufacturing, use and recycling.
Most developing countries import plastic, not producing plastic materials and products domestically. Obtaining information on the content of toxic substances in such goods based on legally binding international requirements would greatly facilitate the border control process and reduce the entry of goods containing toxic substances into countries’ markets.
CG2 participants discussed issues related to national action plans (NAPs), stakeholder participation, information exchange, and technical assistance.
There was agreement on the importance of harmonized templates and guidance for NAPs, potentially with a minimum set of elements. However, some countries stressed that such guidance should not be legally binding. Some noted the importance of harmonizing NAPs, with more prescriptive guidance on targets, indicators and timelines, considering national circumstances, to promote their transparency and comparability across parties.
There was broad support for a multi-stakeholder agenda to encourage active and meaningful participation in the development and implementation of the instrument and to accelerate action.
Recognition of the role of indigenous peoples and local communities and the informal sector in a just transition was deemed particularly important.
The reports of the two contact groups are available online at the following links
All session documents are available at INC2 website