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Recycled Plastic Gavel Brought to Symbolise an Agreement on Plastic Pollution

The plastics agreement recognized the rapidly rising levels of plastic pollution and emphasized the critical need for global coordination, cooperation, and governance. It comes at a time when plastic production is increasing at an exponential rate.

Shivam Dwivedi
UNEA Members
UNEA Members

The recent United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) will be remembered for its historic agreement to end plastic pollution. The draft resolution, which was endorsed by UN Member States and will become a legally binding agreement by 2024, was sealed when Espen Barth Eide, Norway's Minister of Climate and Environment and President of UNEA, struck a recycled plastic gavel.

Nzambi Matee, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Young Champion of the Earth, created the gavel out of recycled plastic bottle tops from Nairobi's Dandora landfill. Norway presented the gavel to UNEP at the end of the assembly.

"The meeting gavel is a symbol of circular economy, stakeholder engagement, multilateral cooperation, and is a testament to the historic decision at UNEA-5.2 to end plastic pollution," said Norway's ambassador to Kenya, Gunnar Andreas Holm.

The plastics agreement recognized the rapidly rising levels of plastic pollution and emphasized the critical need for global coordination, cooperation, and governance. It comes at a time when plastic production is increasing at an exponential rate.

Over 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, with that figure expected to double by 2040. However, only 12% of this is incinerated, and only 9% is recycled. A garbage truck's worth of trash enters our oceans every minute.

According to UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen, the agreement is monumental and has the potential to be transformative. She called it the most significant international multilateral environmental agreement since the Paris Agreement.

Matee's technology was used to create the gavel, which when lowered signified approval of the resolution.

Matee, the Young Champion of the Earth, is also the founder of Gjenge Makers Ltd, a sustainable building company that produces pavers for the construction industry out of recycled plastic waste. In Kenya, her company offers environmentally friendly and cost-effective construction options.

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