Heart of international action to address plastic pollution beats in South America

Representatives from 120 countries, industry and civil society meet under the Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Partnership in Uruguay, ahead of the inaugural session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.

From 23 to 25 November 2022, the members of the Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Partnership (PWP) convened in Punta del Este, Uruguay, to discuss plastic waste prevention, elimination of hazardous constituents in plastic products, trade control of plastic waste, promotion of the environmentally sound collection, separation and recycling of plastic waste, and to plan the PWP’s work for the 2024-25 biennium.

“I was delighted to see that the PWP’s membership keeps growing, we are now up to 265 representatives from over 120 government, industry and civil society entities from around the world, all dedicated to successfully tackling the plastic waste crisis,” noted in his opening remarks the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, Rolph Payet.

Established under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal in 2019, the PWP aims to significantly reduce and ultimately eliminate the discharge of plastic waste and microplastics into the environment – particularly, in marine ecosystems. To that end, PWP members work to foster best practice solutions for the environmentally sound management of plastic waste by building on the existing body of knowledge at the local, regional and global levels.

One of the flagships of the PWP is its pilot project programme, through which 23 projects in 22 countries have so far been selected for implementation.  The new round of proposals will seek to include pilot projects with a regional focus.

“Following this year’s second call for proposals, we are evaluating over 100 projects in countries where the need for action is greatest. We expect this round of to focus on innovative projects that both scalable and replicable in other country settings,” said the PWP Working Group Co-chair, Ross Bartley, from the Bureau of International Recycling.

On the occasion of the third PWP meeting, the BRS Secretariat launched the digital version of a photography book, featuring the finalist entries of the PWP’s Plastic is Forever (so it’s time to get clever about managing it) photo competition. People from all around the world entered the competition to share images depicting how plastic pollution is affecting their daily lives. All photographs were previously displayed in photo exhibitions held in Geneva and online, on the UN Exhibits website. The three competition winners were announced in June 2022 during the Plastics Forum, held in the margins of the 2021/2022 meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the BRS Conventions.

Following the third PWP meeting, delegates from around the world gather for the first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. The INC meeting takes place in Punta del Este, from 28 November to 2 December, after the adoption of the relevant historic resolution during resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly. With the ambition of completing negotiations by end of 2024, the INC will consider how to promote sustainable production and consumption of plastics from product design to environmentally sound waste management, through resource efficiency and circular economy approaches.

The BRS Secretariat is participating in the INC to closely cooperate and coordinate with the United Nations Environment Programme. Through the Plastic Waste Amendments, the Basel Convention is currently the only international treaty to legally bind countries to minimise the generation of plastics wastes, strictly control their transboundary movements, and ensure their environmentally sound management. In addition, the Stockholm Convention controls several hazardous chemicals used in plastics, and requires countries to manage waste with such chemicals in an environmentally sound manner. Thanks to support from Norway, the Secretariat is undertaking a study to map the global governance landscape of plastics and associated chemicals, and to identify governance gaps and complementarities with existing multilateral instruments. The study is set to provide possible considerations for the role of a new plastics instrument in regulating plastics and associated chemicals. The draft report is available for comments by 10 January 2023.

Looking to raise awareness among youth of the initiatives taken by the international community to curb and eliminate plastic waste pollution, the BRS Secretariat launched the Plastic is Forever Tik Tok challenge during the INC conference. Top players will be awarded a hard copy of the Plastic is Forever photography book.

The third meeting of the PWP working group was co-organised by the BRS Secretariat and the Basel and Stockholm Conventions Regional Centre in Uruguay (BCCC-SCRC Uruguay), thanks to the generous support of the European Union and Norway.


The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) brings together the three leading multilateral environmental agreements that share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal aims to protect people and the environment from the negative effects of the environmentally unsound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes worldwide.

More information on the Plastic is Forever campaign is available below:

For more information on the Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership, contact: BRS Programme Officer, Susan Wingfield, susan.wingfield@un.org

For media inquiries, contact: BRS Associate Public Information Officer, Marisofi Giannouli, marisofi.giannouli@un.org

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