Group hopeful for progress on global plastic pollution treaty; delegates meet in Ottawa

By Matt Hutcheson

Hundreds of international delegates are gathered in Ottawa this week to try to hammer out a treaty to address plastic pollution.

The group is working to develop a legally binding agreement that would curb plastic use and limit the use of toxic chemicals in plastic production.

This is the fourth of five meetings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee. In 2022, the UN passed a resolution to come up with a global plastics treaty. A deadline for its development was set for the end of this year.

The group last met in Nairobi, Kenya in November but failed to produce a second draft of the treaty. There was hope a plan for work between sessions could be put in place. That too failed to happen.

Hopes are high for a better outcome in Ottawa.

“This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get this right,” Nancy Goucher, Knowledge Mobilization Specialist, Global Water Futures, University of Waterloo, told CityNews Kitchener. “This is a really accelerated process. It usually takes quite a long time to put together multi-lateral agreements. But, we’ve been directed to develop this in a relatively short time.”

The process has become mired in procedural debates and delegates have accused other countries of being less-than-ambitious about reaching an agreement.

There have also been accusations of interference by fossil fuel and chemical industry lobbyists.

Yet, there remains optimism a deal can be reached by the end-of-the-year deadline.

The group will meet again in Busan, South Korea at the end of November.

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