SA supports efforts to end plastic pollution

As government continues to consult the plastic industry on an internationally legally binding instrument to combat plastic pollution, Minister of Forestry Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy affirmed that South Africa remains resolute in supporting global efforts to end plastic pollution.

In 2022, South Africa supported the development of an internationally legally binding instrument to combat plastic pollution at the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly.

‘Consequently, on the domestic front, the South African negotiations rest on a firm base provided by our Constitution protecting the right to an environment that is not harmful to health, and to have our environment protected from plastic pollution.

‘The reality is that plastics has been targeted for growth as part of our industrial policy and it is incumbent on us that we ensure that this plastic growth is socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable,’ Creecy said during a virtual engagement on Friday.

The Minist
er made these remarks during a consultative stakeholder engagement meeting on South Africa’s negotiating position ahead of the 4th Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC4) on the development of the international legally binding instrument on curbing plastic pollution.

The consultation was intended to consolidate the country’s negotiating position at the INC4, which is scheduled to take place in Ottawa, Canada from 23 – 29 April 2024.

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) is mandated to develop an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution and marine litter, address the full plastic lifecycle and set out a series of provisions to be developed.

‘The full life cycle of plastic manufacture, use, and disposal in the context of the Waste Act and National Waste Management Strategy, 2020 is key. The negotiations’ priority obligatory measures include supporting and strengthening waste management services to prevent plastic leaking into the environment.

‘Emphasis is on waste
collection and improving recycling systems through the development amongst others; extended producer responsibility schemes to collect, reuse and recycle plastic waste with the aim of promoting a circular economy in the plastic industry. Promoting public awareness and clean up campaigns to remove plastic waste from rivers, wetlands, and beaches,’ the Minister said.

She said the plastic pollution affects the terrestrial and aquatic, including marine, environments.

‘South Africa boasts a coastline that covers over 3 000 kilometres, and it is in the interest of environmental sustainability that South Africa is actively engaged in the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee process.

‘The recognition of the threat plastic pollution poses to human health, ecosystem functioning, and the marine environment keeps the South African members of the INC hard at work.

‘Given the versatility of the plastic product, the lifecycle approach requires a multi-stakeholder focus, and thus government is considering views of int
erested and affected parties in the negotiations of this internationally legally binding instrument on curbing plastics pollution,’ the Minister said.

She said more action is warranted to tackle plastic pollution.

Source: South African Government News Agency