Decisions on plastic scrap were reached in Geneva as approximately 180 governments adopted a raft of decisions aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste, including plastic waste, at the meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (Triple COPs). Pollution from plastic waste has been acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern with reports indicating that 80-90 percent of an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic found in the oceans comes from land-based sources.
Governments amended the Basel Convention to include plastic scrap in a legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment. A new Partnership on Plastic Waste was also established to mobilise business, government, academic and civil society resources, interests and expertise to assist in implementing the new measures, to provide practical support – including tools, best practices, technical and financial assistance – for this agreement, as per the press release. Other far-reaching decisions included the elimination of two toxic chemical groups, which together total about 4,000 chemicals, listed into Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, namely Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and its salts and PFOA-related compounds.
Important progress was also made under the Rotterdam Convention, which provides a legally-binding framework for information exchange and informed decision-making in the trade of certain hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals. “I’m proud that this week in Geneva, Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste. Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, and the fact that this week close to 1 million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action here in Geneva at the COPs is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high,” said Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary (UNEP) of the three conventions, in a statement.