In March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) approved a broad mandate to start talks on an international treaty to address the growing threats from plastic pollution. 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.
In IPEN’s analysis, based on the mandate, the final agreement must address the health impacts of plastics and their chemicals in four ways:
Lifecycle approach: the use, release of and harms from toxic chemicals from plastics must be addressed at a minimum through the production, design, consumption, and waste management phases.
Design and circular economy: Chemicals in plastics make them unsustainable and unfit materials for a circular economy. As the mandate underlies the importance of promoting sustainable design, the treaty must ensure that hazardous chemicals are eliminated from plastic production and that plastics with hazardous chemicals are not recycled.
Health and Multilateral Environmental Agreements: The resolution notes the importance of preventing threats to human health and the environment from toxic plastics and calls for coordination with the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). The treaty must address the health and environmental impacts due to exposure to hazardous chemicals and toxic emissions throughout the plastics lifecycle.
Microplastics: As the resolution recognizes microplastics as included in plastic pollution, the chemical health and environmental hazards from microplastics must also be addressed, including their potential to be vectors for chemical contamination.
The fifth United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA5) decided that negotiations will be starting in 2022 for a legally binding agreement on plastic pollution. The International Negotiation Committee (INC) will have a broad mandate to address plastic pollution in all its aspects and impacting all environments. While the terms chemicals, additives, hazard, or toxic do not appear in the final text, the chemical content, and the toxic impacts of plastics on human health and on the environment are clearly included in the mandate. The future treaty will be a key instrument in advancing the world towards a toxic-free future.
A brief summary of the happenings and outcomes of the Mercury Treaty COP 4.2 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in Spring 2022, as well as notes about side meetings and future events.
The fourth Conference of the Parties of the Minamata Convention on Mercury was scheduled 21 – 25 March 2022 but actually finished at around 5am on the morning of 26 March with the final decision on Budget and Programme of Work.
Significant advances were made in decisions on dental amalgam and addition of several product groups to Annex A.
The European Union has an opportunity to prevent toxic recycling through the substantial strengthening of limit values for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in waste, known as Low POPs Content Levels. 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.
Quezon City, Philippines Non-government organizations (NGOs) from South, Southeast and East Asia have called on national governments to adopt and strictly implement regulations to address endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in products. The NGOs are participating organizations (POs) of the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), a global civil society network working for a toxics-free world.