IPEN International Pollutants Elimination Network

Plastics Treaty INC-2: Interventions

Tadesse Amera speaking at a plenary session with IPEN members by his side

Opening Statement presented by Dr. Tadesse Amera, IPEN Co-Chair, Ethiopia

May 31, 2023

Thank you, Mr. Chair, Distinguished Delegates, Good afternoon to you all.

I am speaking on behalf of IPEN, the International Pollutants Elimination Network, a network of over 600 Health & Environmental Organisations in over 120 countries largely based in the Global South. Our goal and mission are a toxics-free future for all.

Plastics are made of chemicals and over 13.000 chemicals are associated with plastics. Thousands of these chemicals are hazardous and have been shown to negatively impact human health and the environment. Plastics are not safe. Until the chemicals and plastics industry eliminates the thousands of hazardous chemicals used in plastics, a transition to a safe circular economy will not be possible.

For INC2 we believe the States should address the following priorities when setting a mandate for a zero draft:

  • Set an objective for the Treaty that protects both human health and the environment from the adverse effects of plastics, with consideration of the precautionary principle.
  • Focus on upstream measures that lead to the minimization of production of plastic materials.
  • Implement fundamental principles in the treaty provisions including the precautionary principle and implement the human right to a healthy environment.
  • Include transparency measures for chemicals in plastics and obligations to ensure that plastics that remain in the economy are free of hazardous chemicals, including hazardous polymers. These chemicals should be identified with science-based criteria, to be discussed by INC3.
  • Provide sufficient, new, additional, stable, accessible, adequate, timely and predictable flows of financial resources to support the implementation of the Treaty and other MEAs on chemicals and waste.

Finally, since the INC process should guarantee the broadest possible participation of all involved stakeholders as stipulated in Resolution 5/14, we expect a more open participation in the future as had been before in other processes.

We look forward to an ambitious and protective Treaty and to engaging fully in this process. Our future is in your hands.

Opening Statement presented by Siddika Sultana, Executive Director, Environment and Social Development Organization, Bangladesh

May 31, 2023

Sidikka Sultana speaking at the INC2 plenaryThank you, Mr. Chair, 

Speaking on behalf of ESDO, an IPEN participating organization, I would like to present our views.

Plastic pollution is more than just the damage it does to the ocean and the trash it leaves behind. This issue involves both chemical compounds and environmental health. 

Proposed objectives that should be taken into consideration in this INC are:

  1. To prohibit production, marketing and promotion of toxic plastics from the life cycle of plastics
  2. To phase out all problematic plastic items 
  3. To ban production and use of single-use plastic products
  4. To promote environment-friendly alternatives of plastic products
  5. To regulate toxic plastic recycling throughout the lifecycle of plastics 

Our key massages, Mr. Chair, are:

  • The majority of member states and their groups who provided their views on components of the Plastics Treaty (close to 74%) favored protection for human health, and more than half of the submissions (64%) advocated for some form of control on the chemicals in plastics.
  • To protect public health and the environment from the effects of plastics across their life cycle, the Plastics Treaty must consider chemicals in plastics. Consequently, the opinion that the Plastics Treaty should contain the following elements:
      • Health protection
      • Reduced production
      • Ban single-use & problematic plastic products and packaging
      • Bans or restrictions on plastic waste trade & transboundary movement
      • Funding for implementation and to promote alternatives
      • Basic key principles
      • Chemical controls
We propose core obligations, control measures approaches are:
  • Banning, phasing out and/or reducing the production, consumption and use of chemicals and polymers of concern
  • Reducing microplastics
  • Strengthening waste management and Solution through a zero-waste mechanism
  • Promoting the use of safe, sustainable alternatives and substitutes
  • Protecting human health from the adverse effects of plastic pollution, throughout the life-cycle 
  • Addressing existing plastic pollution

I thank you Mr. Chair

Opening Statement presented by Priti Mahesh, Chief Programme Coordinator, Toxics Link, India

May 31, 2023

Priti Banthia Mahesh speaking at the plenary at INC2Thank you Mr. Chairman for giving me the floor. Good afternoon everyone.

I am Priti Banthia Mahesh and I speak on behalf of Toxics Link, an environmental group from India working on the issue of Waste and Chemicals for around 3 decades and a participating organisation of IPEN.

Plastic pollution is a very critical issue and the challenges are very critical especially in developing countries like India, where the production and consumption of plastic and plastic products is huge and there are limited frameworks to address the entire lifecycle of plastic. The limited focus on chemicals in plastic and micro and nano plastic pollution and its impact on the health of all living beings and overall, the planet, is worrying and makes it very important that the Global Plastic Treaty is put in place at the earliest, with strong and clear measures, not just on waste management but on the entire life cycle of plastic.

Toxics Link, therefore, would like to thank the Secretariat for this initiative and strongly supports a Treaty which focuses on eliminating unnecessary plastics and toxic chemicals in it and mandates a harmonized effort and system to ensure Just Transition.

Thank you once again Mr Chairman.

Closing Statement presented by Yuyun Ismawati, Nexus3, Indonesia

Thank you, Chair.

I am speaking on behalf of Nexus3 Foundation, a participating organization of IPEN.

This week we heard many delegates addressing the toxic chemicals in plastics and their health impacts on humans—furthermore, scientists reminded us about the extended implications of plastic pollution on biodiversity and our future.

Studies show that terrestrial plastic pollution is taking longer to degrade compared to the pollution in the ocean. Plastic’s slow degradation is a long-term humanity problem.

We believe that protecting human health should be considered a cross-cutting issue to be addressed in the Treaty throughout its control measures. Experience under Article 16 of the Minamata Convention has shown that a dedicated article on “health aspects” is ineffective without consideration across the control measures.

We also believe that to protect human health from the adverse effects of plastic pollution, including microplastics, nanoplastics and toxic chemicals, it is vital to follow the example of the Stockholm Convention and incorporate the precautionary principle in the treaty.

Some countries and the plastic industry emphasise the need to increase plastic circularity and recycled content without acknowledging the toxic chemicals in plastics. As a result, plastic credits finance has been promoted as incentives for plastic waste collection, recycling, and waste to energy. We want to emphasize that burning plastics in the form of RDF for fuels should not be and cannot be claimed for credit due to toxic emissions and releases. We therefore hope that these destructive practices will be prohibited by the Treaty.

We look forward to continued work at INC3.

Thank you.

Closing Statement presented by Dr. Tadesse Amera, IPEN Co-Chair, Ethiopia

Thank you Mr. Chair and Distinguished Delegates,

We would like to offer some reflections on the second session of the INC.

IPEN has been working on toxic impacts of plastics on health and the environment for over 2 decades. Through our work in other MEAs we have seen first-hand how important it is that civil society has an active voice at the table.  This process concerns us all and it is important to continue having an open and transparent process.

This week we have heard from communities, women, workers, and indigenous peoples impacted by the toxic chemicals in plastics. It is becoming increasingly clear that plastics are a public health issue. We are therefore encouraged by the important discussions on how to address these issues more upstream of the plastics life cycle.

Although we are disappointed by the slow process, the roadblocks we are seeing are also a sign that the treaty work is paving the way for big changes (No pain, no gain).

The reason that these negotiations are so complicated is because it has become very clear that this treaty presents an incredible opportunity to protect human health and the environment from toxic chemicals in plastics.

IPEN will continue to advance our mission together with others with a high ambition to achieve a meaningful Plastics Treaty that protects human health and the environment.

We welcome the mandate for a zero draft and look forward continued negotiations at INC3.

Thank you!