Preproduction plastics as pellets, or "nurdles", can carry many different chemicals, both those added to the plastics and pollutants that attach (sorb) to them in the environment. Often lost during production, transportation, and storage, pellets have been found on beaches all over the world since the 1970s. This study of plastic pellets gathered from beaches in 23 different countries contained many chemicals of concern, some in very high concentrations.
Plastic production, use, and end-of-life management threaten the environment and human health with toxic chemicals exposures. Protecting women, children, and communities in low- and middle-income countries that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of plastics is a priority. IPEN recognizes the need for a new global treaty addressing plastics and associated chemicals, which must include new and additional sustainable financial resources and complement existing international conventions and frameworks. The negotiations should recognize the importance of not diverting resources from commitments on legacy chemical pollution such as PCB stockpile management and POPs waste trade restrictions in favour of a new treaty.
A new legally binding global treaty must hold polluters legally and financially accountable, provide remedies to affected communities, and mitigate the toxic impacts plastics and their toxic additives have on the enjoyment of human rights throughout their life cycle, particularly on communities that are the least responsible for plastic production. The projected increased production of chemicals and plastics hamper the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Negotiating the treaty requires the meaningful open, transparent, and inclusive participation of civil society and the communities most affected by plastics’ harmful impacts.
Overarching goal: Eliminate the toxic impact of plastics throughout their life cycle – production, use, and disposal.
The Association “Agir pour le Développement Durable” (2AD) is a non-profit organisation under Chadian law, created in 2017 by a group of Chadian youths, teachers, and students. The main objective was to involve youth, women and men in “sustainable development and environmental protection”.
A brief overview of plastic production in the world in recent decades shows that increasingly more plastic is produced than in previous decades, which constitutes a real danger for living beings (humans, animals, and plants)
Plastic pollution is spread across lands, beaches, and oceans. Small particles of plastic, called microplastics, are persistent in marine ecosystems, and can be found in our food and salt (Borrelle et al., 2017). Plastic pollution has a variety of impacts, from effects on biodiversity and ecosystems, to food quality and human health, but it is still not well characterized and needs more research attention.
Chemicals in plastics have a variety of health consequences, and none more startling than the potential impacts on human fertility. In the same way that plastic additives and fire-retardant chemicals can disrupt endocrine function in kidneys or the pancreas — even at very low doses — they can have effects on ovaries and testes and the entire reproductive system. Studies show that fertiility has decreased over the past few decades, and work by researchers has linked some of these declines with the effects of ubiquitous toxic chemicals that have gone unregulated or that have persisted in the environment.
In July 2021, IPEN and Commonweal's Biomonitoring Resource Center hosted a webinar with two leaders in this research, Dr. Shanna Swan, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and Dr. Pete Myers, Founder and Chief Scientist at Environmental Health Sciences. Dr. Swan's recent book "Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race" delves into the causes and issues surrounding this disturbing trend. In the webinar, she reviewed the findings from her book and outlined the issues we face in dealing with harms to human health. In his presentation, Dr. Myers detailed many of the issues faced in terms of threats to fertility, but also to other human and wildlife disease, such as the faulty regulatory thresholds currently in use by governments, which fail to account for non-monotonic effects at very low doses often seen with endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), the specific mechanisms of chemicals within cells, and the trans-generational impacts rarely discussed in popular media, brought about by epigenetic effects of chemicals and their metabolic by-products.
A Case Study of Muoroto Slum in Mombasa, Kenya, by Eco Ethics Kenya provides a valuable insight into the management of plastic waste and its adverse impacts on the environment and health of those vulnerable communities, especially artisanal recyclers, who carry a disproportionate burden. This case study underpins the recommendations made by Eco Ethics Kenya for urgent action to protect the informal waste sector through better training, support and worker safety protections.
As with many countries around the world, during the COVID-19 lockdown periods in Bangladesh, there was an increase in hazardous medical waste production. The increase in waste volume pressured the waste management infrastructures, which have proven insufficient to accommodate the unexpected increase. Furthermore,resurgence of single use plastic posed a serious threat for health and the environment. In the suburban areas, personal protection equipment (PPE), caps, and gloves were discarded into household bins, putting waste collectors' health and life at risk.
In January 2020, a ban on single-use plastics came into force in the territory of Morelos, Mexico, leaving 90 days for the development of the regulations of the Morelos Waste Law. This Law would establish the rules to materialize said ban, which, among other things, also established the obligation for commercial establishments to submit a single-use plastics substitution program to the environmental authority.
Gothenburg, Sweden Major investments in chemical recycling, plastic-to-fuel, and incineration to manage plastic waste is generating high volumes of highly hazardous waste and toxic emissions, according to a new report released today.
The report Plastic Waste Management Hazards is the first study providing a detailed account of how current investments in recycling schemes, both mechanical and chemical, will have very little impact on a growing, worldwide plastic pollution problem and will increase exposure to toxic chemicals in the communities where they are located.
Report co-author and IPEN POPs Policy Advisor, Lee Bell said, “No current management method for plastic waste is capable of alleviating the world’s expanding plastic pollution crisis. All methods generate significant toxic hazards because of the toxic additives that are a component of most plastic products. Industry’s championing of various recycling schemes is a marketing ploy designed to fend off plastic regulation and efforts to curb an escalating plastic pollution problem. The only solution to the plastic waste piling up in our communities and oceans is to limit plastic production to essential uses and eliminate the use of toxic chemicals in plastics.”