Business philosophy – The second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on plastic pollution (INC-2)

Original by Dr. Steve Wong
May 30, 2023

With the joint efforts of the UNEP and UNESCO, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-2) is holding the second meeting in Paris, France, from 29 May to 2 June 2023. To develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including its impact on marine environments, this meeting is the continuation of the meeting held in Paraguay (INC-1) last year. The main agenda is to respond to the increasingly severe environmental pollution, particularly when plastic waste and chemical pollution affect biodiversity, oceans, and water quality and climate change endangers nature and human life.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) strongly supports the ongoing global process of a plastic treaty. It emphasizes the need to eliminate plastic pollution and restore the environment at local, regional, and international levels while enhancing circular plastic management. By shifting from a linear lifestyle to a circular one, a circular plastic economy holds significant potential for nature but requires close integration with biodiversity policies and strategies. The ultimate goal is to achieve a world free of plastic pollution by 2030.

Some environmental advocacy groups criticize the assertion that the chemicals present in recycled plastics can impact human health and the environment. They claim that the toxicity of plastic increases with recycling and that the additives found in plastic are primarily toxic and carcinogenic.

Notwithstanding the environmental pollution caused by plastic waste and everyone condemns the health hazards and environmental pollution caused by plastic, its usage persists without reduction or abandonment. Many peers in our industry consider themselves great contributors to recycling, solving numerous pollution problems caused by plastic waste. However, based on my interactions with officials from various United Nations member states and environmental organizations, they believe that the recycling industry harms the environment and contributes to pollution. Most government officials perceive the lack of appropriate technology and equipment, particularly in developing countries, as the reason for the inability to effectively recycle plastic waste resulting in pollution. I often emphasize that developed and developing countries employ the same equipment and technology for plastic recycling. The difference lies in the abundant human resources in developing countries, enabling more efficient recycling and regeneration of plastic waste.

Conversely, since the revision of the Basel Convention to restrict the export of plastic waste, the recycling rate has remained consistently low which requires collective efforts from all countries and sectors to address.

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