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Historic decision against plastic

Germany welcomes the ground-breaking resolution on plastic waste at the UN Environment Assembly UNEA in Nairobi as a huge success.

Activist Benjamin von Wong with a plastic artwork in Nairobi.
Activist Benjamin von Wong with a plastic artwork in Nairobi. © picture alliance /

The UN Environment Assembly UNEA wants to end plastic waste pollution in the world. At its fifth session in March 2022 in Nairobi, the members agreed to draw up a legally binding treaty by 2024 that regulates the full lifecycle of plastics from production, through use, to recycling or proper disposal as waste. Germany sees the decision as a great success “comparable to the Paris Climate Agreement,” says the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, Steffi Lemke, in Nairobi.

Our oceans are being suffocated by waste.
Steffi Lemke, Federal Environment Minister

A comprehensive approach to the fight against plastic waste was a key objective of the German government in Nairobi, for which it has been pushing for a long time, together with many African, Latin American, Asian and European states. The international and multilateral fight against climate change and for better environmental protection is one of the key objectives of the coalition government. “In Germany, in Europe and internationally, I will push for strong and binding regulations on plastic waste and the protection of the oceans,” says Steffi Lemke. “Our Oceans are being suffocated by waste. The pollution of the oceans caused by vast amounts of plastics is a colossal environmental problem that is damaging animal and plant life, and harming humans as well.”

The minister described the Federal Government’s intention as follows: “The new German government is strongly committed to creating an ambitious global framework for the protection of biological diversity. In addition to this, we want to ensure that the synergies between climate, nature and resource protection are utilized more effectively.”

Delegates applaud the result of the vote against plastic waste.
Delegates applaud the result of the vote against plastic waste. © picture alliance /

450 million tons of plastics

Every year industries throughout the world produce more than 450 million tons of plastics. 45 million tons of these are recycled. People dump around 90 million tons uncontrolled in the environment, and about 11 million tons of this end up in the oceans, according to estimates by the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP. Huge garbage patches have developed in the oceans from this waste. Beaches are being polluted, maritime creatures are being impacted, and the degraded micro-plastic particles are entering the food chain.

The 50th anniversary of UNEP was celebrated at the end of the UNEA session in Nairobi. The environmental programme of the United Nations is the international community’s most important player in environmental policy and is supported by the Federal Government in many ways. It is the highest decision-making body of the UN on matters of environmental protection.


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