Reduce Plastic Production, Phase Out Unnecessary Single-Use Plastics and Stop Toxic Recycling

The global south is bearing the brunt of what some have characterized as “environmental imperialism”. Trash, climate change and the environment – all this is a joint global effort, but the wealthier nations are simply subjecting the poorer nations to the direct or immediate impacts of mounting trash. The wealthy nations get to live on the convenience of using stuff like single-use plastics on the backs of the poor.

Plastic is used in virtually every industry in various forms: packaging, clothes, electronic components, consumer products, transportation and construction. We need to look at plastics in its entirety to address plastic pollution across its entire lifecycle. Developed countries tend to recycle high-quality plastic domestically and export low-worth plastics to developing countries, burdening our countries with environmental pollution, risking the health of our communities and posing occupational hazards to workers arising from the processing of these materials. We need to end waste colonialism. We are not a dumping ground.

However, banning plastic waste exports without reducing plastic production will likely trigger more dumping, cause toxic pollution and contribute to the climate crisis. So what is needed is that the global plastics treaty which is being negotiated now to address these issues.

Campaigning by civil society organizations and some governments resulted in the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) unanimously adopting a resolution last year to end plastic pollution. The mandate calls for addressing plastic pollution in all environments through a comprehensive approach addressing the full plastics lifecycle.

We view that the crisis of plastic pollution should be tackled from upstream, by reducing the overall amount of plastic production, phasing out unnecessary single-use plastics and unrecyclable plastic, and addressing the toxics in plastics and subsequently toxic recycling.