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OECD Report: Towards Eliminating Plastic Pollution by 2040

Why is it in the news?

  • The OECD has issued an interim report titled “Towards Eliminating Plastic Pollution by 2040: A Policy Scenario Analysis,” highlighting the urgency of addressing plastic pollution and outlining policy scenarios to achieve a plastic pollution-free world by 2040.

Key Findings of OECD Interim Report

  • The report was presented in the 3rd session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution.
  • The committee aims to establish an international binding agreement on plastic pollution.
  • The full report with detailed analysis and policy guidance is expected in the first half of 2024.
  • According to the report, in 2022, 21 million tonnes of plastics leaked into the environment globally.


Detrimental Consequences of Continued Plastic Use and Waste Volumes

  • Environmental Impact: Accumulation of plastic in oceans, harming marine life.
  • Climate Impact: Greenhouse gas emissions from plastic production. Energy-intensive processes required for plastic recycling.
  • Health Impact: Microplastics enter the food chain (bioaccumulation) and affect human health. Further, respiratory issues occur due to the burning of plastic waste.
  • Economic Impact: Costs associated with cleaning up plastic pollution. Loss of tourism revenue in areas affected by plastic debris.
  • Wildlife Impact: Ingestion of plastic by animals, leading to fatalities.
  • Resource Depletion: Depletion of fossil fuels for plastic production.


Recommendations Proposed in the Report

  • Curb Production and Demand: Implement targeted taxes and regulations on avoidable plastics.
  • Design for Circularity: Improve the plastic production process through eco-design criteria. Establish product standards that promote reuse.
  • Enhance Recycling: Strengthen material loops by improving separate collection, sorting, and recycling of plastic waste. Implement measures like extended producer responsibility.
  • Close Leakage Pathways: Decrease environmental losses by implementing effective waste collection and disposal methods.


Initiatives Taken to Tackle Microplastics


Global Initiatives:

  • Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML)
  • GloLitter Partnerships Project
  • London Convention, 1972


India-Specific Initiatives

  • Elimination of single-use plastic
  • Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016
  • Un-Plastic Collective
  • Kerala: Beat Plastic Pollution Initiative


How Other Countries Are Dealing with Single-Use Plastic

  • 124 countries, including India, signed a resolution to address the full life of plastics, making it legally binding to end plastic pollution.
  • 68 countries have plastic bag bans with varying degrees of enforcement.
  • Bangladesh, banned thin plastic bags in 2002, China with a phased ban on plastic bags in 2020, and the EU with bans on certain single-use plastics with available alternatives.
Bisphenol A (BPA), a cause of concern, is a structural/key component in the manufacture of which of the following kinds of plastics? (UPSC 2021)

(A) Low-density polyethylene

(B) Polycarbonate

(C) Polyethylene terephthalate

(D) Polyvinyl chloride

Answer: B 

BPA stands for bisphenol A, an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1950s. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles.


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