Norway wish for measures against plastic waste

Plastic Waste shore ocean riverPlastic waste on the shoreline. Photo: UNEP

Norway wishes for stronger measures against plastic waste

The Norwegian authorities propose stricter international rules for trade in plastic waste. The goal is to limit the enormous amounts of plastic that end up in the oceans.

“This is an important proposal and a big step in the right direction,” Minister of Climate and Environment, Ola Elvestuen (Liberals), tells NTB.

He hopes to have the proposal adopted during a UN conference in Geneva that started on Monday. It lasts until May 10th. The participants at the conference are the more than 180 countries that have signed the Basel Convention on Trade in Hazardous Waste.

More stringent regulation of the trade of plastic waste can reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in nature including the oceans. More than 8 million tons of plastic is estimated to end up in the oceans each year, primarily in Asia.

In dire need of a different level of control

International trade in plastic waste takes place to a large extent. This trade is practically unregulated today, according to Elvestuen.

The Cabinet Minister is positive towards the purchase and sale of sorted waste for recycling. Unsorted plastic waste – exported to poor countries – can easily end up in the wrong place.

“A completely different level of control of the flow of plastic goods is needed,” Elvestuen asserts.

The Norwegian authorities, therefore, propose international rules on state control of exports of plastic waste that do not go directly to recycling. Such waste should only be exported if the trade is approved by the authorities of the importing country, the government believes.

A representative of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), Rolph Payet, informs the news agency AP that there appears to be considerable support for the Norwegian proposal at the meeting in Geneva.

Nairobi declaration

Germany is also a driving force for stricter plastic rules. German authorities are vying for an international ban on the export of unsorted plastic waste, which is difficult to recycle, according to the news agency DPA.

Earlier this year, a declaration against plastic littering of the oceans was adopted by the UN Environment Program after a proposal from Norway. The decision took place at a meeting in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where Elvestuen was elected as the President of the assembly.

Plastic waste and microplastics in the oceans is a very extensive problem, which has received more attention in recent years. Some estimates – albeit very uncertain – suggest that in a few decades there may be more plastic than fish in the oceans of the blue planet.

“The horror scenario is that there will be as much plastic as fish in the oceans in 2050. That must be avoided,” Elvestuen told NTB ahead of the meeting in Nairobi.

The Minister of Environment hopes for a separate international agreement on plastic littering in the sea In the long term. He, however, acknowledges that it is uncertain when such an agreement can come into effect.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today
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