It has been estimated that 4.8-12.7 million tonnes of plastics enter the oceans every year. Plastics are made from carbon and chemicals and many of the chemicals can leach out from the plastics -- this means that plastic litter can act as carriers of toxic chemicals to remote regions.
Read our factsheet on the global spread of chemicals from plastics.
The listing of plastic wastes as Y48 in annex II of the Basel Convention includes exemptions for a range of plastics “provided it is destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner and almost free from contamination and other types of wastes”.
The aim of the Stockholm Convention is to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Parties to the Convention have therefore committed to take precautionary action on POPs, recognizing that they are toxic, resist degradation, and bioaccumulate, and that they are transported across international boundaries and deposited far from where they are released. Impacts on indigenous communities, women, and future generations are acknowledged in the Treaty as of special concern.
Plastics are more than bottles, straws, and bags — more than individual products. The word “plastic” refers to many different materials with different properties that are given to them by their chemical ingredients.
A circular economy aims at changing the economic take-make-waste approach to one that minimizes extraction of natural resources and waste creation. It is seen as key to sustainability, including in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG 12). The European Union Circular Economy Action Plan also aims to design for sustainability, encouraging products that last longer, are easier to use, recycle and repair, that incorporate more recycled materials, that limit single-use, and that maximize an item’s lifespan.
POPs waste is defined, according Article 6 of the Stockholm Convention, by setting Low POPs Content Levels (LPCLs). This establishes an important kind of “limit value” because POPs waste should be treated such that POPs are either destroyed or irreversibly transformed. They cannot be landfilled, reused, or recycled, because POPs content in that waste would also be recycled and thus would not stop this chemical pollution from entering the environment.
Parties to the Stockholm and Basel Conventions have an opportunity to prevent toxic recycling through the substantial strengthening of limit values for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in waste, known as Low POPs Content Levels. Establishing strong limit values for POPs in waste today will significantly promote the future of a toxic-free circular economy, because it will promote innovation in recycling, increase the pressure on industrial designers to remove POPs from products, and ensure that the circular economy is not poisoned in its infancy.
Recent research on uv-328 further proves its potential to undergo long-range transport, bioaccumulate, and cause harm
Background from this document:
UV-328 is manufactured at annual global production volumes exceeding 1 000 tons (UNEP/POPS/ POPRC.17/4). It is used as a UV absorber, i.e., to protect against degradation from sunlight. It is used in plastics and cosmetics and is part of several consumer products including coating products, adhesives and sealants, sunscreen, food contact materials, and plastics.