Plastic Waste: The Dark Side of Barbie

Olivia Petrus
Life in plastic, it's not fantastic ad
Courtesy of AdsOfTheWorld

Not everybody has the Kenergy for loving the Barbieland alternate reality these days. A series of meetings and negotiations how to deal with plastic waste have taken place over the past year with a couple of key holdouts.

Background: In March 2022, the UN Environment Programme took a bold step in fighting plastic pollution by forming the International Negotiating Committee (INC).

  • Their mission: Create a global, legally binding agreement to address plastic pollution.
  • Their motto: Make green the new pink.

In the first round of negotiations, 51 nations formed the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution. They have since expanded to 58 total countries with a common goal of ending plastic pollution by 2040.

  • 460 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year and is estimated to triple by 2060. Meanwhile, just 9 percent of plastic made to date has been recycled.

Fast forward: The second round of negotiations was held in Paris this past May. After procedural disagreements that felt longer than a director’s cut Lord of the Rings marathon, delegates agreed to create a legally-binding treaty to combat plastic pollution, including the marine environment.

Just one problem: Major plastic-producing nations like the United States and Saudi Arabia still remain outside the coalition.

  • These powerhouses oppose efforts to curb plastic production and are instead advocating for policies focused on plastic recycling and waste management as opposed to decreasing production.

Critics have speculated this is an effort to safeguard lucrative petrochemical companies during the movement away from fossil fuels. They have concerns policies tailored to individual companies could lead to minimal commitments and contributions.The United States argued a more realistic and effective plan would instead prioritize the most important sources and types of plastic pollution.

What’s next: The deadline for a zero draft of the agreement is set for November during the INC-3 conference in Kenya.