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A Toxics-Free Future


Highlights Front Roll

IPEN Resources for the Plastics Treaty INC-1
New Video: Plastics Poisoning Our Health
How the UNEA Plastics Resolutions Relates to Chemicals and Health
Plastic Poisons the Circular Economy
Plastics, Plastic Waste, and Chemicals in Africa
Plastics, EDCs & Health Report Links Chemical Additives and Health Effects
PFAS compound PFHxS listed for global ban with no exemptions; chemical recycling blocked over hazardous waste concerns; controls adopted on e-waste exports; and a proposal for burning PFAS in cement kilns stymied


Geneva, Switzerland Several notable decisions were adopted at the closing of two weeks of negotiations of the Joint Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions on hazardous chemical management.

IPEN Co-chair Pamela Miller reflected on the meeting, saying that “IPEN brings civil society to these meetings to bear witness for the billions of people around the world who could not be here, but whose health, well-being, and human rights depend on the decisions that are being made.” She continued, “These Conventions were adopted to protect vulnerable communities of women, children, workers and Indigenous communities. Still, governments and their powerful industry representatives put their own economic and trade interests before the health and well-being of the global environment and its inhabitants.”

Important Measures Taken to Control the Export of E-Waste

Massive amounts of electronic waste are today exported to developing countries and countries in transition. The Parties to the Basel Convent took a significant step during the COP towards controlling this highly polluting practice by listing e-waste under the convention, mandating a Prior Informed Consent procedure for transboundary movement of this type of waste.

Dr. Tadesse Amera, IPEN Co-chair commented “The export of electronic waste on developing countries leads to extensive pollution of the environment, poisoning of the food of local communities and severe health impacts. We welcome this decision to control all e-waste exports. However, we are also concerned about the remaining loophole for exporting e-waste under the guise of repair. We urge governments to restrict all export of used electronics under the Basel Convention”.

Action on Toxic PFAS “Forever Chemicals”

The toxic PFAS chemical PFHxS, together with its about 80 related substances, was listed under the Stockholm Convention for global elimination, with no exempted uses. These “forever chemicals” are used e.g. in stain-resistant fabrics, fire-fighting foams, food packaging, and as a surfactant in industrial processes.

Also, PFOA, another chemical in the PFAS family that was listed for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention in 2019 with a range of exemptions, was now adopted for listing under the Rotterdam Convention that controls transboundary movement of hazardous chemicals.

Geneva, Switzerland IPEN members from around the world are gathering in Geneva, Switzerland from June 6 to 17 at the meetings of the global Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions. IPEN is an official observer group at the meetings, with a role of educating delegates and contributing to the Convention talks to promote the need for stronger protections for our health and the environment. The talks will cover a wide range of issues, from toxic chemicals in plastics to the need for stronger protections from hazardous wastes.

Read more from the BRS COP 2022

Without consideration of the public and experts from the most affected and vulnerable regions, a global Plastics Treaty cannot meaningfully resolve the crisis.

This op-ed appeared 30 May 2022 in Environmental Health News

In March 2022, 175 countries came together in an agreement to begin negotiations on a global treaty to address the plastic crisis.

Toward a Plastics Treaty

Read IPEN's Analysis of the
Plastic Pollution Resolution

Plastic Treaty INC-1

See IPEN's Quick Views, research reports, and more resources for the INC-1 here.

Plastics Treaty Background

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has called for this meeting of an ad hoc open-ended working group to prepare for the work of the intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) on a Plastics Treaty. UNEA resolution 5/14 specifies that the INC is to develop an international legally binding agreement based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, and, among other provisions, calls for an agreement

“To promote sustainable production and consumption of plastics, including, among others, product design, and environmentally sound waste management, including through resource efficiency and circular economy approaches.”

IPEN believes that an understanding of the following three principles will be foundational for a Plastics Treaty that addresses the human health and climate threats from plastics throughout their lifecycle, and for promoting alternatives that truly meet the needs of a circular economy.

Watch Plastics Video

In March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) approved a broad mandate to start talks on an international treaty to address the growing threats from plastic pollution. The scope of the Plastics Treaty is intended to include all impacts from plastics throughout their lifecycle, including effects from the toxic chemicals in plastics on human health and the environment. The future treaty will be a key legally binding agreement moving the world towards a toxic free future.

In IPEN’s analysis, based on the mandate, the final agreement must address the health impacts of plastics and their chemicals in four ways:

More funding is needed for contaminated sites from gold mining

Nusa Dua, Indonesia After difficult and tense negotiations, the Fourth Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Minamata Convention on Mercury agreed that parties shall not allow or shall recommend against the use of mercury based dental amalgam in deciduous teeth, children under 15 and pregnant and breast-feeding women.

This ground-breaking decision, proposed by the African region, is an acknowledgement by global governments that mercury based dental amalgam can impact human health despite decades of industry claims that it is safe.

IPEN representative Gilbert Kuepouo said, “This breakthrough decision, is the beginning of the end of dental amalgam use around the world. There is finally official acknowledgement that mercury fillings can have adverse health effects on women and children. Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin, and it cannot be justified any longer to place it in the mouth of women and children. While we don’t have a global phase out date yet, this decision means that a full phase out is just a matter of time.”

In other decisions there was agreement that the last category of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) would be phased out by 2025 as LED alternatives are now widely available.

Nairobi, Kenya While some attempt to cast the global plastics crisis as a problem with disposal and litter, a distinguished panel at UNEA 5.2 confirmed that the future plastics treaty must address the problem of toxic chemical additives in plastics. The resolution to initiate the international process for a global, binding plastic treaty does not itself contain specific language about chemicals. However, two speakers underscored that the resolution's scope is broad enough to allow chemicals to be negotiated in the final treaty text. IPEN was lauded for its work to reveal the presence of such chemicals — recognized toxics such as BPA, PFAS, brominated flame retardants, dioxins, and other chemicals — in recycled pellets and products, as well its work to expose problems with bans on the export of plastic waste as fuel.

Watch the panel


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