See the IPEN video showing how exports of plastics and plastic waste, mostly from wealthy countries, bring toxic chemicals to Africa, exposing children and families to harmful chemicals and poisoning the circular economy.
In May 2021, the X-Press Pearl cargo ship caught fire near the Colombo Harbor (about 9.5 nautical miles away from the shoreline) of Sri Lanka with container loads of hazardous chemicals on board. The spill and resulting chemical pollution are considered the worst man-made maritime disaster to have struck Sri Lanka.
A delegation of IPEN members are joining the resumed eighteenth session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Dakar, Senegal this week, under the theme: “Ensuring the well-being of populations and ensuring environmental sustainability in Africa".
In a welcome development, twenty countries led by Norway and Rwanda yesterday announced a coalition to end plastic pollution and work together to help forge an effective, meaningful global Plastics Treaty. According to their press release, The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution “will issue statements and undertake intersessional work on essential elements and issues to inform the negotiations in order to develop a landmark treaty by 2024.”UNEA has mandated a Plastics Treaty 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 has called for a strong, meaningful global agreement to end plastic pollution that eliminates the toxic impacts of plastics and chemicals, based on the precautionary principle, and protects the health of citizens, workers, vulnerable populations and Indigenous Peoples, and the environment. Ending the toxic impacts of plastics will require addressing all aspects of plastic production, use, transport, and disposal, with a focus on reduction and minimization of plastic production.
The IPEN team this week will participate in the UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, to highlight the threats to oceans from toxic chemicals, including chemicals in plastics that pose threats to human health and marine life.
Materials such as plastic and e-waste contain a cocktail of chemicals that studies show can disturb the body’s natural hormones. As ever-higher volumes of trash continue to end up in landfills, primarily waste exported from Western countries to low- and middle-income countries, waste pickers will be on the front lines of what scientists are calling an emerging health issue of global concern. And women are especially at risk.
In March 2022, 175 countries came together in an agreement to begin negotiations on a global treaty to address the plastic crisis. From May 30 to June 2, 2022, delegates from around the world met in Dakar, Senegal to set the terms for the next two years of work around a global Plastics Treaty.
IPEN members from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe attended the meetings in Dakar, and other IPEN groups from around the world continue to closely monitor the Plastics Treaty process. In Dakar, IPEN co-chair Dr. Tadesse Amera outlined our concerns about the health threats from chemicals in plastics and called for an open, participatory treaty process in his opening remarks to the plenary session.
In Dakar IPEN worked to educate delegates on the importance of developing within the INC an approach that understands plastics as carbon and chemicals, addresses the health and environmental threats from toxic chemicals in plastics, and promotes safer, non-toxic materials that are compatible with a circular economy.