New Zealand has joined other countries in stating support for coordinated global action to combat marine plastic pollution through a new global agreement.
In a statement this week, Ministry for the Environment said the flow of plastic litter and plastic pollution into the marine environment was a growing global problem with significant environmental, health, social, and economic impacts.
“By 2050 plastic production is expected to grow to 1,600 million tonnes per year from 407 million tonnes in 2015, outweighing all humans on earth 5.6 times over,” the Ministry said.
“At the next United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) from 28 February to 2 March 2022, countries across the world will consider whether to start negotiating a new global agreement on marine plastic litter and plastic pollution.
“If countries agree to start negotiating a new global agreement, the New Zealand Government will consult with stakeholders on the detail of the agreement.”
The summary report of the UNEA’s Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics identifies a range of potential options to address the marine plastic litter problem.
What could be in an agreement
Core elements of a new global agreement are likely to include a:
- shared global goal/common long-term vision to the plastic pollution problem
- common approach to national action plans covering the life cycle of plastics
- mechanism to harmonise reporting and monitoring of actions and effects of measures
- financial mechanism to deliver technical support and capacity building
- science and knowledge mechanism to provide access to quality-assured information for stakeholders at all levels.
The overall scope, level of ambition, and nature of commitments of a global agreement all remain subject to negotiations, the Ministry said.
“Taking action on plastic waste is an important step in New Zealand’s journey to a low-waste economy, with an effective resource recovery and recycling system.”
In the negotiations, New Zealand will be guided by principles of a circular economy, waste hierarchy and a life-cycle approach consistent with our National Plastics Action Plan (already underway) and draft national waste strategy.
“We welcome any initial thoughts or feedback that will inform our analysis in the lead-up to negotiations,” the Ministry said.
New Zealand has also endorsed the:
- Pacific Regional Declaration on the Prevention of Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution
- Ministerial Statement on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution [Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution website] with a wide range of other countries including the EU member states.
New Zealand is also a member of a range of other international groups to reduce plastic pollution such as the:
- Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency;
- Ellen McArthur Foundation Global Commitment on plastics;
- Global Ghost gear Initiative.