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UN Environment Assembly Resolves to Put an End to Plastic Pollution

Welcoming the move, India stated that it was on its insistence that the principle of "national circumstances and capability while taking actions to address plastic pollution" be included in the resolution's text to allow developing countries to pursue their own development paths.

Shivam Dwivedi
Picture depicting Plastic Pollution
Picture depicting Plastic Pollution

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) concluded its fifth session on Wednesday with the adoption of a resolution to end plastic pollution by addressing the entire life cycle of plastic – from production to disposal.

Welcoming the move, India stated that it was on its insistence that the principle of "national circumstances and capability while taking actions to address plastic pollution" be included in the resolution's text to allow developing countries to pursue their own development paths.

Nairobi Session:

At the three-day session in Nairobi, which began on Monday, environment ministers from 193 UN member states agreed to form an intergovernmental negotiating committee tasked with forging an international legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution.

"Further noting that plastic pollution, in marine and other environments, can be of a transboundary nature and must be addressed, along with its consequences, through a full lifecycle approach taking national circumstances and capabilities," the final resolution published on the United Nations Environment Programme stated.

"Decides that the intergovernmental negotiating committee will develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, to be referred to as the instrument, based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, taking into account, among other things, the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (on sustainability),"it added.

"India has begun the journey to end plastic pollution by implementing sound and effective measures through EPR on plastic packaging, as well as imposing a ban on single-use plastic items with low utility and high littering potential," he added.

According to the ministry, "the draft resolution submitted by India called for immediate collective voluntary action by countries." "In UNEA 5.2, India worked constructively with all member states to reach agreement on a resolution to drive global action on plastic pollution by establishing an intergovernmental negotiating committee for a new international legally binding treaty." On India's insistence, the principle of national circumstances and capability was incorporated into the text of the resolution to address plastic pollution.

India also objected to the intergovernmental negotiating committee being tasked with developing targets, definitions, formats, and methodologies at this stage.

In August of last year, the environment ministry notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules 2021, which increased the thickness of plastic bags from 50 to 75 microns to 120 microns with effect from December 31, 2022. The most recent guidelines also forbid the production, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of products with low utility but high littering potential.

It also announced a ban on earbuds with plastic sticks, balloons with plastic sticks, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, and plastic or PVC banners smaller than 100 microns thickness from July 1 this year.

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