Nations negotiate terms of global plastic pollution treaty in Kenya

The latest negotiations towards a global treaty to combat plastic pollution opened in Nairobi on Monday, with tensions expected as nations tussle over what should be included in the pact.

According to the United Nations Environment Program, about 98% of single-use plastics – like bottles or packaging – are derived from fossil fuels. About 400 million tons of plastic waste are produced annually, of which less than 10% is recycled.

The European Union and dozens of countries, including Japan, Canada and Kenya have called for -a strong treaty with “binding provisions” for reducing the production and use of virgin plastic polymers derived from petrochemicals and for eliminating or restricting problematic plastics, such as PVC and others containing toxic ingredients.

For oil, gas and petrochemical producers and exporters, a strong treaty is liability that could curb the sale of fossil fuels, said international coordinator of the International Pollutants Elimination Network.

Saudi Arabia and other producers are “pushing a ‘bottom up’ approach that makes individual countries responsible for the cleanup, health, and environmental costs of plastics and chemicals.

On Sunday, a group of 20 international scientists sent an open letter to negotiators asking them to put health at the heart of the talks, and aim for a treaty that reduces production volumes of plastics and “mandates proper testing of all chemicals in plastics.”

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