IPEN has been studying the impacts of plastics and the chemicals they contain for 25 years, and has produced global data on the health and environmental threats from plastics. The background documents below are helpful resources to better understand the impacts.
Plastics are materials made of complex mixtures of chemicals, often including chemicals that are known to be hazardous to human health and to ecosystems at the global level. We need a global agreement to end plastic pollution that protects human health and future generations.
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.
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.
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.
Many toxic chemicals are used in plastics, and these chemicals are impossible to track due to a lack of traceability and content labeling. When plastics are reused, repurposed, or recycled, this means that the toxic chemicals in the original product circulate into the new products and continue to expose people and the environment to harm.
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.
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.
Although there are thousands of individual chemicals that can be described as EDCs, they fall into seven broad categories. This brief discusses what each group is, how people can be exposed, and the health impacts.
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.
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. Currently, it is being assessed as a persistent organic pollutant (POP), to be included in the Stockholm convention for reduction or elimination.