IPEN International Pollutants Elimination Network

Global negotiations on a treaty to end plastic pollution at critical phase

gas flare with AP logo

For the first time, negotiators from most of the world’s nations are discussing the text of what is supposed to become a global treaty to end plastic pollution.

Delegates and observers at the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution called it a welcome sign that talk has shifted from ideas to treaty language at this fourth of five scheduled plastics summits.

Dozens of scientists from the Scientists’ Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty came to the meeting to provide scientific evidence on plastic pollution to negotiators, in part, they said, to dispel misinformation.

“I heard yesterday that there’s no data on microplastics, which is verifiably false: 21,000 publications on micro and nanoplastics have been published,” said Bethanie Carney Almroth, an ecotoxicology professor at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg who co-leads the coalition.

The delegates have been discussing not only the scope of the treaty, but chemicals of concern, problematic and avoidable plastics, product design, and financing and implementation.

“We took a major step forward after two years of lots of discussion. Now we have text to negotiate,” said Björn Beeler, international coordinator for the International Pollutants Elimination Network. “Unfortunately, much more political will is needed to address the out of control escalating plastic production.”

When thousands of negotiators and observers arrived in Ottawa, Luis Vayas Valdivieso, the committee chair from Ecuador, reminded them of their purpose, asking them to be ambitious.

“The world is counting on us to deliver a new treaty that will catalyze and guide the actions, and international cooperation needed to deliver a future free of plastic pollution,” he said. “Let us not fail them.”

Members of an Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus held a press conference Saturday to say microplastics are contaminating their food supply and the pollution threatens their communities and ways of life guaranteed to them in perpetuity.

Vi Waghiyi traveled from Alaska to represent Arctic Indigenous peoples. She’s reminding decision-makers that this treaty must protect people from plastic pollution for generations to come.

She said, “We come here to be the conscience, to ensure they make the right decision for all people.”

Read the full story from the Associated Press.