175 nations agree to address full lifecycle of plastics at United Nations Environment Assembly by 2024

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Representatives from 175 nations have decided to sign a legally binding agreement by 2024 to address plastic pollution.

As part of this, they will assess the full lifecycle of plastics, the design of reusable and recyclable products and materials, and the need for enhanced international collaboration to facilitate access to technology, capacity building and technical cooperation.

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This was decided at a meeting of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Assembly in Nairobi, that involved heads of state, environment ministers and others, and was designed to end plastic pollution.

The idea that came from the meeting is is that by 2024, a legally binding document will be produced that shifts towards a circular economy for plastics. This would reduce the volume of plastics entering the oceans by over 80% by 2040, reduce virgin plastic production by 55%, and save governments $70 billion (£52 billion), according to UNEP.

An Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) will begin work this year to come up with the legally binding international agreement by the end of 2024.

UNEP executive director Inger Andersen said: “Today marks a triumph by planet earth over single-use plastics. This is the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord. It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it.

“Let it be clear that the INC’s mandate does not grant any stakeholder a two-year pause. In parallel to negotiations over an international binding agreement, UNEP will work with any willing government and business across the value chain to shift away from single-use plastics, as well as to mobilise private finance and remove barriers to investments in research and in a new circular economy.”

The full text of the document can be viewed here

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