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UN committee begins discussions on ending global plastics pollution

The UN has set an ambitious goal of zero plastic pollution by 2040.
UN committee begins discussions on ending global plastics pollution
Posted at 2:32 PM, May 29, 2023

On Monday, a United Nations committee began a monumental meeting in Paris with the goal of ending plastic pollution globally. Even with a tight deadline, however, a solution may not come soon.

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution is tasked with finding a way to create the first international, legally binding treaty covering plastic pollution. The goal is not only to create global mandates and national solutions, but to also include the marine environment.

There seems to be very little agreement on how to reach the UN's goal of having zero plastic pollution by the year 2040. Talks today were stalled on deciding on a voting system for each country.

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Experts say there are a number of paths the treaty's terms could take. Some countries, like Norway and Rwanda, want to see the production of both plastics and the chemicals that they are made out of restricted. Countries like the United States and China prefer scaling up global recycling efforts instead of limiting plastic production. Others believe that a one-size-fits-all approach couldn't work on a planet-wide scale.

Despite how we get there, Stéphane Dujarri, the spokesperson for the Secretary General of the United Nations said at a press conference in New York earlier this month that these kinds of changes will also be good for the economy.

"I just want to flag that our colleagues in Nairobi, at the UN Environment Programme say that plastic pollution could be reduced by 80% and result in savings of over $300 billion per year if countries and companies make deep policy and market shifts using existing technologies," said Dujarri.

This is the second of five such meetings set to occur through the end of 2024. Considering the tight deadline, leaders hope this session is as productive as possible.

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