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Global plastic treaty negotiations should include Taiwan: civic groups

11/14/2023 10:14 PM
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Photo courtesy of nvironmental Rights Foundation
Photo courtesy of nvironmental Rights Foundation

Taipei, Nov. 14 (CNA) Civil groups concerned with the impact of the petrochemical industry on Tuesday called for Taiwan to be included in global plastic treaty negotiations as the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) continued in Kenya.

The INC is convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and aims to develop an international legally binding treaty on plastic pollution, including in marine environments.

In the joint statement, the civic groups noted that Taiwan is one of the top ten importers and exporters of plastic in the world and accounts for 20 percent of the total global export value of general plastic materials, meaning the country plays a crucial role in the global petrochemical and plastic industries.

In addition, the statement said many people have been negatively impacted by Taiwan's developing petrochemical industry and called for the global plastic treaty to include effective measures to reduce plastic production around the world.

It also called on the committee to roll out provisions between formal parties and non-party countries, so that important plastic production bases like Taiwan do not become loopholes in the treaty.

Hsu Po-jen (許博任), Environmental Rights Foundation senior researcher and campaigner, told CNA that although Taiwan's environmental groups cannot directly communicate with the committee, they still try to convey messages through the global action network "Break Free From Plastic" to NGOs and representatives across the globe.

Hsu said if the treaty did not include clear provisions on trade, then plastic production could increasingly take place in non-party countries like Taiwan, which could harm residents and the environment.

Hsu added that, so far, Taiwan has mainly focused on the processing of waste, but that the global community is already discussing the limitations and regulations regarding producing more eco-friendly plastics.

As a result, not only the Ministry of Environment but also the Ministry of Economic Affairs should be aware of this issue and consider setting up regulations per the treaty.

Responding to the issue, Lai Ying-ying (賴瑩瑩), director of the Environment Ministry's Resource Circulation Administration, told CNA that the ministry will examine draft INC legislation, and ascertain whether differences between regulations in Taiwan and the international community mean the Resource Recycling Act draft should be amended.

Lai said that Taiwan's current laws focus on reducing plastic consumption, managing general waste, and instructing related suppliers to develop alternatives to plastic products.

Projects such as the "Four in One Resource Recycle Project" -- which encourages local communities to work together to boost recycling -- could also help boost the responsibility of suppliers, Lai added.

The third session of the INC is taking place at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, from Monday to Sunday.

The nine groups that jointly issued the statement Tuesday included the Environmental Rights Foundation, Taiwan Zero Waste Alliance, Changhua Environmental Protection Union, Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Taixi Village Citizen Power Co., Ltd., Dashe Environment Protection Alliance, Citizen of the Earth - Taiwan, Taiwan Watch and Green Citizen's Action Alliance.

(By Chang Hsiung-feng and Evelyn Yang)


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