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UNEP: World must address full life cycle of plastic, recycle to curb pollution

UNEP: World must address full life cycle of plastic, recycle to curb pollution
April 23
23:23 2024

Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), says there is a need for the world to move closer to an instrument that addresses the full life cycle of plastics.

Andersen spoke on Monday at the Opening of Partnerships Day at the fourth round of negotiations on the plastic pollution instrument, INC-4 in Ottawa, Canada.

She said plastic is an “important invention”, adding that there is a need to be deliberate about its production and usage.

The UN official said the elements of instruments to curb plastic pollution include eliminating single-use plastics and strengthening recycling efforts.


Andersen added that world leaders must agree on clear, measurable time-bound targets, as well as ensure a just transition “for the 20 million waste pickers who form the global sanitation workforce”.

“Two years ago, nations passed the historic UN Environment Assembly resolution that agreed to start negotiations for a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution,” she said.

“It will take everyone to get the job done, starting with a strong outcome from INC-4 that moves us closer to an instrument that addresses the full life cycle of plastics.


“An instrument that ensures that we eliminate the unnecessary single use and short-lived; that we roll out refill and reuse models; that we produce less problematic plastic.

“That we address harmful chemicals. That we design for circularity. That we invest in solid waste management and recycling. So that we can use, reuse and recycle resources more efficiently. And so that we can dispose safely of what remains.

“First, we must agree on clear, measurable time-bound targets. Second, we must eliminate unnecessary single-use, short-lived and problematic plastics. Third, we must redesign products.

“Fourth, we must agree on broad strokes Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes. Fifth, we must strengthen recycling by investing in environmentally sound waste management and recycling technologies.


“Sixth, we must address chemicals of concern. Seven, we need reporting and transparency that will ensure real progress is made. Eight, we must explore and agree on innovative funding for implementation.

“Nine, we need to ensure a just transition by including and accounting for the perspectives of all stakeholders. Ten, we need to address existing and future plastic pollution.

“The objective of this instrument is to protect nature and its resources – such as food and water – and ultimately people everywhere from plastic pollution.

“So, on this Earth Day 2024, let it be said that it was here that we turned off the plastic tap. That the next generations will grow up in reuse, refill, reduce and recycle world.”


Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 annually. This year’s theme — “Planet vs plastics” — implores nations to adopt policies to curb plastic pollution.


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