175 countries have an appointment from this Monday in Paris, at the headquarters of Unesco, for a second round of negotiations to establish an international treaty against this plastic pollution. Two days before kick-off, France, the host country, is organizing a curtain raiser this Saturday with ministers and diplomats from around forty countries. What is at stake with this treaty?
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A figure to give the extent of plastic pollution: 430 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year in the world… And less than 10% is recycled. Two-thirds end up dumped in the environment. With catastrophic consequences for animals – whales and turtles for example – but also for our health as human beings.
At the top of Everest, in the pack ice, at the bottom of the oceans, in the air. Plastic is already everywhere. Even in our bodies, every week, we eat the equivalent of a plastic bank card. And this petroleum derivative, often accompanied by chemical additives, has been detected in blood and breast milk. The air also carries it. Scientists have calculated that next week between 40 and 48 kg of microscopic pieces of plastic will be suspended over Paris every day.
Struggle between ambitious countries and the power of the plastic industry
In view of the disastrous consequences for nature and for our health, the United Nations wants to achieve an international treaty against plastic pollution by the end of 2024. After a first session of negotiations completed on December 2 in Punta del Este (Uruguay), Paris will host on Monday May 29 the second session out of the five planned in total. Governance issues have so far dominated the exchanges, but the five days of discussions should make it possible to begin to draw broad guidelines.
A text to rethink our everyday products. Why should shampoo or toothpaste necessarily be liquid and therefore in plastic containers? To change the way we package and transport. Put an end to single use, improve the management and recycling of plastic waste. Southern countries lack the infrastructure for this.
How binding will the text be? The coalition of ambitious countries, led by Rwanda and Norway, will face oil-producing countries, the fossil fuel lobby and states where the plastics industry is a powerful job provider. These discussions could constitute a crucial stage, with the preparation of a first version of the final text of the treaty “, hopes, in any case, Christophe Béchu, Minister of Ecological Transition.
►Also listen: A change of air – Plastic: too high an environmental cost
(And with AFP)