180 NATIONS AGREE ON A NEW UN ACCORD TO CURB EXPORT OF PLASTIC WASTE
12, May 2019
Prelims level : Environment Mains level : Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
Why in News:
- Around 180 governments agreed on a new UN accord to regulate the export of plastic waste, some eight million tonnes of which ends up in the oceans each year.
- The 1,400 representatives, meeting in Geneva reached the agreement after 12 days’ discussion on what UN Environment Programme (UNEP) called “one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues”.
- The Geneva meeting amended the 1989 Basel Convention on the control of hazardous wastes to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework. Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste, the new amendment would empower developing countries to refuse “dumping plastic waste” by others.
- Developed countries like the US and Canada have been exporting their mixed toxic plastic wastes to developing Asian countries claiming it would be recycled in the receiving country. “Instead, much of this contaminated mixed waste cannot be recycled and is instead dumped or burned, or finds its way into the ocean,” Plastic waste pollution has reached “epidemic proportions” with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans. The meeting also undertook to eliminate two toxic chemical groups — Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid, plus related compounds.
- The latter has been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as carpets, paper and paints.
- Even though the U.S. and a few others have not signed the accord, they cannot ship plastic waste to countries that are on board with the deal.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- It is an UN agency, it coordinates UN’s environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It was founded as a result of the UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference) in 1972. HQ: Nairobi, Kenya. Its activities cover a wide range of issues regarding the atmosphere, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, environmental governance and green economy. UNEP is also one of several Implementing Agencies for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.