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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Germany joins international coalition to tackle plastic waste

Germany has joined the international High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution by 2040 that was launched on Monday, August 22, 2022.

Steffi Lemke
Steffi Lemke, German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection

Agreement had already been reached in Nairobi in March on starting negotiations on an internationally binding instrument to end plastic pollution. A group of like-minded countries has now launched a High Ambition Coalition to drive forward implementation of Resolution 5/14 “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an International Legally Binding Instrument”.

As announced at UNEA5.2, Norway and Rwanda will jointly chair the coalition.

German Environment Minister, Steffi Lemke, commented: “The pollution of our oceans with vast quantities of plastic is a massive environmental problem that is not only harming animals and plants but also humans. In Nairobi we worked hard with like-minded countries from all over the world to take a crucial, globally agreed step to tackle the deluge of plastic: a mandate for an intergovernmental negotiating committee to draw up an agreement, within a few years, on reducing marine litter and environmental pollution.

“With this initiative we are continuing our efforts with the same sense of urgency and taking the activities of the like‑minded countries to a new level. Following on from our G7 and G20 presidencies in 2015 and 2017, the G7 Ocean Deal also puts this issue high on the agenda as one of the three planetary crises. This is a clear sign that we have to make even more effective use of the synergies between climate action, nature conservation and resource efficiency.”

Plastic pollution has reached unprecedented levels worldwide. Without concerted, global measures and an internationally binding framework in the coming decades, these levels are projected to rise significantly. All plastics contain chemicals – from base polymers to additives and processing agents. Many of them are considered potentially hazardous to human health and the environment.

To protect our natural foundations of life, the High Ambition Coalition has outlined three strategic goals for success in further negotiations: restrain plastic consumption and production to sustainable levels, enable a circular economy for plastics and achieve environmentally sound management and recycling of plastic waste.

In addition to Germany, which together with Norway and the European Commission had already launched a process of like-minded countries, the governments of Rwanda and Norway will participate in the High Ambition Coalition together with ministries from Canada, Peru, Senegal, Georgia, the Republic of Korea, the UK, Portugal, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Costa Rica, Iceland and Ecuador.

Projections show that plastic consumption will skyrocket in the decades to come and more than double between 2019 and 2060 (from 460 million to around 1.2 billion tonnes). The key sectors driving this consumption are packaging, automotive and construction. They are responsible for two-thirds of total consumption.

The plastic volumes found in rivers and lakes are expected to more than triple between 2019 and 2060 (from 109 to 348 million tonnes). The volumes in oceans in the same period could increase fivefold (from 30 to 145 million).

Over 75 percent of all plastic waste produced since 1950 has been disposed of in landfills or released into the environment. Less than 10 percent of all plastic waste has been recycled. According to the OECD, half of all plastic waste is still being landfilled and plastic pollution will double if we continue down this path.

Therefore, the international business community is calling for targets, standards and norms for the entire life cycle of plastics in order to establish the same conditions and requirements for the development of new circular economy business models and to make circular economy a reality in practice.

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