INC-3 on plastic pollution

The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-3) took place from 13 to 19 November 2023 at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. At the outset of INC-3, the Zero Draft was a balanced document, reflecting different points of view and providing a basis for negotiations for Member States. The High Ambition Coalition (HAC), led by Rwanda and Norway (which Armenia also joined) hoped to tackle plastic pollution by 2040 with a treaty guaranteeing action across the entire life cycle of plastics, including cutting production and limiting toxic chemicals used in the plastic industry. However, as a result of negotiations at INC-3, the Zero Draft Treaty text more than tripled in size and included a significant number of provisions on “national priorities”, “national conditions”, which could lead to the predominance of voluntary measures over legally binding ones. Moreover, the bottom-up approach promoted by a number of countries also does not contribute to the preparation of a strong, ambitious document, but leads to a change in the original INC mandate, established under Resolution 14, adopted at the Fifth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in February 2021. According to this mandate, a future treaty should cover “the full life cycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.” However, the so-called bottom-up approach requires a focus solely on waste management, arguing that the problem of plastic pollution lies not in the extraction of raw materials and the production of virgin polymers and the plastic itself, but in its disposal. Proponents of this approach demanded that the issue of extraction of raw materials for plastic production be excluded from the concept of the life cycle of plastics and focus on different approaches to solving the problems of plastic waste. AWHHE representative participated at the INC-3 with a team of international NGOs including International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), and worked closely with the Armenia delegation.