IN the Kenyan capital’s week-long talks known as INC3, negotiators grappled with over 500 proposals, striving to shape the world’s inaugural treaty targeting the surging plastic pollution crisis, generating an estimated 400 million tons of waste annually. With a deadline looming till the end of the next year, the stakeholders congregated with urgency and diverse perspectives.
The plastics industry, oil giants, and petrochemical exporters, including influential nations like Russia and Saudi Arabia, advocated for a global deal emphasising recycling and reusing plastic. Conversely, environmental advocates and certain governments pressed for radical reductions in plastic production, citing the urgency to curb its initial creation to tackle the crisis effectively.
Greenpeace, a leading environmental group, voiced concerns about the lack of progress. Graham Forbes, Greenpeace’s head of delegation, criticised the failure of INC3 to fulfil its primary goal of drafting a treaty text, citing the overwhelming number of submissions as evidence of chaos rather than progress. ‘This is not progress. This is chaos, he remarked.
‘We are facing major threats and crises on the planet due to plastics, connected to climate change and biodiversity loss,’ highlighted eco-toxicologist Bethanie Carney Almroth from the University of Gothenburg, emphasising the multifaceted impact of the plastic crisis.
Stewart Harris, spokesperson for the International Council of Chemicals Association, hinted at a refining process for the plethora of ideas gathered in Nairobi, stating, ‘The talks have laid the groundwork for further discussions in Canada.’
‘The overwhelming support for our proposal shows the global concern over harmful polymers,’ shared representatives from Switzerland and Uruguay, buoyed by the backing of over 100 states as reported by the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN).
‘Less than 10 percent of plastic waste is recycled,’ highlighted the UN Environment Programme, underscoring the severity of the issue that leads to at least 14 million tons of plastic ending up in oceans annually, as stated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
‘Production limitations are crucial,’ stressed representatives from Canada, Kenya, and the European Union, while a coalition led by Russia and Saudi Arabia emphasised the importance of recycling.
The United Nations, withholding a formal statement until the talks conclude, hinted at ongoing deliberations shaping the future steps toward addressing this crisis.
Efforts to gather insights from the Saudi delegation were declined, while Russian delegates remained unreachable for immediate comment, underscoring the complexities and diversities of opinions shaping this global issue.