Plenary session – Chemicals and plastic

15.30-16.45

Plenary session – Chemicals and plastic

15:30 – 16:45

The urgent need to address pollution by marine plastic litter and microplastics is now widely recognized. The damage which plastics can do is often visible and dramatic. What is less apparent is the risk associated with additives and chemicals in and on plastics.

A large number of chemicals are used in the production of plastic materials ranging from the monomers that make up the plastic polymer itself, to a wide range of additives used, for example to soften plastic, colour it or make it less flammable.

Despite how useful these additives are in the functionality of polymer products, their potential to contaminate soil, air, water and food is widely documented in literature.

The presence of additives is also a major challenge to recycling, or extending lifetime of products. A circular economy won’t be achieved unless this challenge is addressed effectively.

In addition, plastics plays a role of carriers of bacteria, POPs and other chemicals of concern, posing a serious threat to environment and human health.

Moderator:

  • Sandra Avérous Monnery, Programme Officer, Chemicals and Health Branch, Economy Division, UNEP

Discussants:

Questions

  • Toxic or potentially toxic properties of plastics including chemical additives in plastics, as well as chemicals adsorbed to plastics in the marine environment;
  • The implications and existent/proposed solutions from different perspectives of plastic lifecycle: design, recycling, waste-water treatment and policies interventions.
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