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A Toxics-Free Future

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Report Highlights Threats of Toxic Additives in Plastic
Holding Producers Responsible: Financing the Sound Management of Chemicals
Australia plastics waste ban highjacked by incineration proposals
IPEN Leader Speaks Against US Dumping Plastics and Chemicals in Africa
Study Reveals High Levels of Lead in Spray Paints
New Study Proves Dioxins in Plastic Toys Harm Children
New report highlights issues and solutions with chemicals in plastics

Although plastics pollution is getting more of the attention it has long deserved, often lost in the discussion are the toxic additives that contaminate plastic products, leach into food webs and the environment, and persist in recycling streams. Without addressing the harms created by these toxic additives, the prospect of achieving a safe circular economy is greatly hindered.

Plastic’s Toxic Additives and the Circular Economy, a new report developed in collaboration with multiple UN convention groups, technical experts, and organizations working to address pollution, discusses the key challenges society faces to eliminate toxic components in the plastics life-cycle, identifies chemicals and sectors of greatest concern, and outlines key approaches for tackling the issues.

Read the original article in Korean

On September 25, 2020, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it would sign a “multilateral agreement on the use of lead-reducing paint that complies with international standards”. The main focus is to use products with excellent safety and low lead content below the recommended level of the World Health Organization (WHO) in city-managed facilities and public places. The agreement includes five paint manufacturers, the Korea Paint Ink Industry Cooperative, Seoul Facilities Corporation, SH Corporation, and the Green Seoul Citizens' Committee. This is a valuable fruit of civil society organizations that have been working for a safe environment for children from harmful substances, paint manufacturers that manufacture safe products, and Seoul's efforts to make Seoul safe from harmful substances.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, through this agreement, less than 0.009% (90ppm) lead in the interior and exterior of public facilities managed by the Seoul Facilities Corporation and public housing sold, rented, and managed by the Seoul Housing and Urban Corporation (SH) comply with international standards. Only paints containing this will be used.

For Immediate Release

View the Report, Executive Summary, Video, and FAQ (available in Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish)

(Gothenburg, Sweden) As people and ecosystems around the world are increasingly exposed to multiple and interacting hazardous chemicals, experts from leading international law and global chemical safety organizations are releasing a groundbreaking report that offers a clear pathway to finance the control and regulate toxic chemicals and waste: a producer-pays tax on basic chemicals.

The chemical industry generates trillions of dollars in annual sales (projecting sales over USD 11 trillion in 2030), but it does not bear the significant health and environmental costs that derive from its activities. These costs, according to World Health Organization estimates, include 1.6 million annual premature deaths due to the global disease burden attributable to preventable chemical mismanagement and 45 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs).

The proposal by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) asserts that chemical producers must take greater financial responsibility for the safe management of their products, beginning with the production of feedstock chemicals that fuel the global chemicals sector and the rapidly growing petrochemical industry.

The plan proposes a small coordinated fee of 0.5% on the production value of basic chemicals that will fund the sound management of chemicals and waste. Basic chemicals are early-stage chemicals produced from petroleum, natural gas, and other raw materials. These chemicals represent the basic building blocks from which all other chemicals are made. In 2018, sales of basic chemicals totaled USD 2.3 trillion.

View the entire package, including the press release, reports, executive summary, FAQ, and videos.

Webinar series helps communities face wave of waste-to-energy proposals that hide toxic effects

Zero Waste Australia in concert with IPEN has created a webinar series aimed at steering communities back to an environmentally sound plastics waste strategy that doesn’t include waste-to-energy incineration projects, after the incineration industry seized upon a national declaration to end waste exports.

In 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) declared that waste plastic, glass, paper and tyres would no longer be exported, stating that: "The COAG waste export ban is the first step in taking responsibility for our own waste and using this resource to create jobs, spark innovation, and deliver strong environmental outcomes."

The waste industry was quick to see an opportunity. Now, much of Australia's waste will be reprocessed into Process Engineered Fuel and Refuse Derived Fuel — both mixtures of waste that include discarded material, including plastics — for continued export overseas or as fuel for paper mills, cement plants, and waste-to-energy incinerators in Australia.

The twelfth meeting of the Basel Convention Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG12) is taking place in a planned two-session approach due to the Covid-19 crisis: an online segment on September 1st - 3d and if possible, a face-to-face meeting in March. Recorded briefings on the set-up from UNEP are available in the UN languages here.

The online session will not take any decisions or negotiate any text but instead will focus on presentations of progress of the intersessional process, such as the various technical guidelines followed by interventions. More information about the online segment and meeting documents is available here and here.

Read IPEN's Interventions

View online side events

IPEN was well represented at the first segment of the 12th Open Ended Working Group of the Basel Convention along with delegates from scores of countries across the globe. The meeting sought to confirm schedules for advancing reviews of key technical guidelines for addressing some of the most critical global pollution issues in the world today including the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes such as plastic, mercury, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The advancement of the technical guidance is to allow their presentation for adoption at COP 15 of the Basel Convention in July 2021.

More Governments Must Ratify the Treaty to Protect the Health of Children and the Environment

In a short video message on the third anniversary of the enactment of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, Minamata Disease survivors Ms Shinobu Sakamo and Mr Koichiro Matsunaga appeal to viewers to help encourage governments to ratify the treaty. Greater regulation of mercury use and trade are necessary to protect the health of people, and ensure not only that industries are held accountable, but that children are protected from the dangers of mercury poisoning now and in the future.

Impact will be felt in Asia Pacific region and the rest of the world

(Shenzhen, China) – The People’s Republic of China, one of the largest and fastest growing paint producing countries in the world, has established new health protective standards for lead in paint. Because China is Asia’s largest paint producer and has nearly one-third of the global market for paints, the new regulations will have important health ramifications not only in China, but throughout Asia and the rest of the world. The new standards will take effect December 1, 2020.

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