Zimbabwe backs resolution to end plastic pollution
Zimbabwe says it fully supports passing the resolution to end plastic pollution with an international legally binding instrument.
Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu told delegates at the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya that the country welcomed this historic and important decision to protect the environment.
“Zimbabwe supports the resolution considering the principle of common but differentiated responsibility which leaves room for consideration of national circumstances in the implementation of international treaties,” it said in a statement.
“Zimbabwe should step up its efforts to promote measures to reduce plastic pollution, including the engagement of relevant stakeholders such as industry and consumers, to pave the way for alternative packaging.”
The resolution was adopted by the 5th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2), unanimously by all member states with resounding cheers and standing ovations.
Member States have recognized that urgent additional international action is needed by developing an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.
In addition to this, the UNEA said it would establish a science policy expert group that would further contribute to the sound management of chemicals and wastes and pollution prevention, as well as the pursuit and strengthening support for the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management.
“Zimbabwe should be part of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Group (INC) for the development of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution and ensure that its national circumstances are taken into account,” said Minister Ndhlovu.
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest man-made threats to the planet today.
Plastic waste is a scourge for the environment and the world’s oceans, which weigh heavily on marine life.
Zimbabwe has taken steps to ensure waste throughout the plastic lifecycle is addressed.
It now has a vibrant plastics industry that helps improve livelihoods and recycle plastic waste.
The country has also made significant progress in managing single-use plastic over the years by banning thin plastic with a diameter of less than 30cm.
It expanded the ban to include polystyrene (kaylites) through Regulations 98 of 2011 and 84 of 2012, respectively.
Currently, the country is pushing for a shift to alternative packaging and promoting the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle.
UNEP statistics indicate that plastic production has grown from two million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, making it a formidable industry estimated at $522.6 billion.
According to UNEP, around 11 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in lakes, rivers and seas each year, threatening the survival of marine species, food security and the livelihoods of coastal communities.
This plastic is ingested by marine animals and reports abound of microplastics being eaten by fish and other creatures which in turn are eaten by humans, posing a health risk to them as well.
Zimbabwe and most other developing countries want additional funding for technology transfer needed to implement the treaty and support developing countries.
According to UNEP, in 2020, total plastic production in Africa reached over 400 million tonnes.
African countries have over the years demonstrated their commitment to tackling plastic pollution by banning the single use of plastic.
At least 37 countries on the continent now have some type of legislation to deal with the problem.