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A Toxics-Free Future

marine litter

UN meeting gives countries the right to refuse unrecyclable, polluting plastics

(Geneva, Switzerland): Governments at the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the Basel Convention acted to restrict rampant plastic waste exports by requiring countries to obtain prior informed consent before exporting contaminated or mixed plastic waste. A deluge of plastic waste exports from developed countries has polluted developing countries in Southeast Asia after China closed the door to waste imports in 2018.

Major Plastic Waste Producers Must Get Consent Before Exporting their Toxic Trash to Global South

Geneva, Switzerland — Today, 187 countries took a major step forward in curbing the plastic waste crisis by adding plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that controls the movement of hazardous waste from one country to another. The amendments require exporters to obtain the consent of receiving countries before shipping most contaminated, mixed, or unrecyclable plastic waste, providing an important tool for countries in the Global South to stop the dumping of unwanted plastic waste into their country.

After China banned imports of most plastic waste in 2018, developing countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, have received a huge influx of contaminated and mixed plastic wastes that are difficult or even impossible to recycle. Norway's proposed amendments to the Basel Convention provides countries the right to refuse unwanted or unmanageable plastic waste.

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In the run-up to the Basel Convention's 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14), IPEN worked with Basel Action Network (BAN) to complete a "Quick Views" document that addresses some issues that will be discussed at tthe COP14. These include marine litter and microplastics; financial resources; compliance; e-waste guidelines; POPs waste; technical guidelines on incineration, engineered landfill, hazardous waste physico-chemical treatment and biological treatment; and more.

The Views document can be read here and on IPEN's page for the Stockholm Convention's COP9, which has additional information about IPEN activities and publications related to the Basel and Rotterdam conferences.

Environmental Health News

https://www.ehn.org/plastic-pollution-and-human-health-2629322391.html

"Every stage of the plastic lifecycle poses significant risks to human health, and the majority of people worldwide are exposed to plastic at multiple stages of this lifecycle."

Press Release / Full Report / Executive Summary

Washington, DC—A new report released today reveals that plastic is a human health crisis hiding in plain sight. Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet, authored by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Earthworks, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), IPEN, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.), University of Exeter, and UPSTREAM, brings together research that exposes the distinct toxic risks plastic poses to human health at every stage of the plastic lifecycle, from extraction of fossil fuels, to consumer use, to disposal and beyond.

To date, research into the human health impacts of plastic have focused narrowly on specific moments in the plastic lifecycle, often on single products, processes, or exposure pathways. This approach fails to recognize that significant, complex, and intersecting human health impacts occur at every stage of the plastic lifecycle: from wellhead to refinery, from store shelves to human bodies, and from waste management to ongoing impacts of microplastics in the air, water, and soil. Plastic & Health presents the full panorama of human health impacts of plastic and counsels that any solution to the plastic crisis must address the full lifecycle.

According to the report, uncertainties and knowledge gaps often impede regulation and the ability of consumers, communities, and policymakers to make informed decisions. However, the full scale of health impacts throughout plastic’s lifecycle are overwhelming and warrant a precautionary approach. 

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