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About The Zero Draft Plastic Pollution Treaty

Context:

The second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) concluded with the member states mandating the INC secretariat to develop a zero draft to end plastic pollution including in the marine environment.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Zero Draft Plastic Pollution Treaty
  2. Plastic Pollution: A Global Environmental Crisis
  3. Plastic Pollution in India: Alarming Statistics

Zero Draft Plastic Pollution Treaty

  • International Commitment: The Zero Draft Plastic Pollution Treaty is an international agreement with legally binding provisions aimed at addressing and ultimately eradicating plastic pollution, particularly in marine environments.
  • Content Framework: The zero draft encompasses various key aspects, structured into 10 placeholders. These placeholders encompass critical topics including the treaty’s preamble, definitions, fundamental principles, and the scope of its application. Additionally, it covers institutional arrangements and final provisions.
  • Importance of Scope: During the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2), several member states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China emphasized the significance of defining the precise scope of the legally binding instrument. This suggests that the treaty’s coverage and applicability are central points of discussion and negotiation.
  • India’s Position: India has aligned with the proposal to establish a clear definition of the treaty’s scope, underlining the country’s commitment to addressing plastic pollution in a comprehensive and effective manner.

Plastic Pollution: A Global Environmental Crisis

Plastic pollution has emerged as one of the most pressing environmental challenges of the modern era. It is a global crisis that affects ecosystems, wildlife, human health, and the overall well-being of our planet. Here’s an overview of the key aspects of plastic pollution:

  • Pervasive Presence: Plastics have become an integral part of our daily lives due to their versatility, durability, and affordability. However, this widespread use has resulted in massive plastic production, consumption, and waste generation. Plastics now pervade our environment, from oceans and rivers to remote wilderness areas.
  • Marine Plastic Pollution: One of the most visible and concerning aspects of plastic pollution is its impact on marine ecosystems. Millions of tons of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, leading to the formation of vast “garbage patches” and entangling marine life. Marine animals often ingest or become trapped in plastic debris, leading to injury and death.
  • Microplastics: Plastic pollution extends beyond what’s visible to the naked eye. Microplastics, tiny plastic particles measuring less than 5mm, have infiltrated aquatic ecosystems and even our drinking water. These particles are ingested by marine organisms and can ultimately find their way into the food chain, posing risks to human health.
  • Environmental Impact: Plastic pollution disrupts ecosystems, as it takes hundreds of years for plastics to degrade. During this time, plastics can release toxic chemicals, harming both terrestrial and aquatic life. Plastic waste also interferes with natural processes and habitats, impacting biodiversity.
  • Human Health Concerns: While the full extent of the health impacts of plastic pollution is still being studied, there are concerns about the potential transfer of toxins from plastics to humans through the food chain. Microplastics have been found in various food items, including seafood and table salt.
  • Global Response: Recognizing the severity of the issue, governments, organizations, and individuals worldwide are taking steps to combat plastic pollution. Initiatives include bans on single-use plastics, recycling programs, and innovations in plastic alternatives.
  • Individual Responsibility: Reducing plastic pollution is not solely the responsibility of governments and industries. Individuals can contribute by reducing plastic use, recycling, properly disposing of plastic waste, and supporting policies and products that are environmentally friendly.

Plastic Pollution in India: Alarming Statistics

  • Extent of Plastic Waste: Data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) reveals that plastic waste constitutes a substantial portion, precisely 8%, of India’s total solid waste.
  • Urban Contributors: Among urban centers, Delhi emerges as the primary contributor to plastic waste, closely followed by Kolkata and Ahmedabad.
  • Massive Plastic Generation: India’s annual production of plastic waste surpasses a staggering 3 million tons, signifying a colossal environmental challenge.
  • Low Recycling Rates: Despite the substantial plastic waste output, the country struggles with an abysmally low recycling rate, hovering at a mere 30%.

-Source: Down To Earth


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