Reducing Plastic Pollution

Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Svetoslava Todorova attended the second session of the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Negotiations Committee on Plastics during the summer of 2023 in Paris, France.

Todorova joined representatives from UN member states, regional economic integration organizations, UN agencies and intergovernmental agencies in an attempt to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.  Unfortunately, the committee was unable to come to an agreement on a draft at the second session.

The next meeting of the committee will be held in November 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya. The committee has the goal of delivering a final agreement by the end of 2024.

“Overconsumption of plastics in a throw-away society generates a lot of waste. Much of it is not easily degradable and can persist in the environment. Single-use plastics visibly accumulate on the streets and in our waterways. I had hoped that the high visibility of problems connected to plastics pollution would make intergovernmental negotiations easier,” says Todorova. “Unfortunately, during the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiations Committee, the delegates were locked in extensive discussions on basic principles and missed engaging in more substantive topics. This shows how difficult these negotiations will be and how challenging it will be to overcome divergent interests and opposition to progress in reducing plastics waste.”