Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources.
Governments amended the Basel Convention to include plastic waste 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. At the same time, a new Partnership on Plastic Waste was established to mobilise business, government, academic and civil society resources, interests and expertise to assist in implementing the new measures, to provide a set of practical supports – including tools, best practices, technical and financial assistance – for this ground-breaking agreement.
Working for two weeks in Geneva under the theme of “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”, approximately 1,400 delegates from around 180 countries converged for the meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (Triple COPs). Participants benefited from the numerous opportunities and events to exchange information and best practices.
Speaking at the close of the event, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary (UNEP) of the conventions, said that “I’m proud that 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 close to 1 million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action in Geneva at the COPs is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high.”
Commenting on the news, Matthew Pearson of Toddpak said “this convention outcome is a positive step that should make the global trade in waste plastic better regulated and help tackle the problem of plastic pollution through waste management.”