UN considers global ban on toxic chemical to turn tide on pollution

UN considers global ban on toxic chemical to turn tide on pollution

06/28/2021

Is this the end of plastic? United Nations considers groundbreaking global ban on key toxic chemical to turn the tide on pollution

  • Landmark global ban on toxic chemical is being considered by the UN
  • Scientists say it would mark ‘the beginning of the end for plastics’
  • Compound is widely used in plastic packaging despite being potential risk 

A landmark global ban on a toxic chemical which scientists say would mark ‘the beginning of the end for plastics’ is being considered by the United Nations.

The compound called UV-328 is widely used in plastic packaging despite being a potential risk to human health and wildlife.

But chemical giants are fighting plans to regulate it, documents uncovered in a joint investigation by the Daily Mail and Greenpeace’s Unearthed news site reveal. Industry groups representing multinationals including ExxonMobil and Shell fear banning or restricting the substance would set a precedent allowing plastic additives to be regulated in the same way as other hazardous chemicals.

European regulators deem UV-328 to be ‘of very high concern’ as it can harm the liver and kidneys in high doses.

It is bioaccumulative, meaning humans and wildlife absorb it faster than their bodies get rid of it, leading to ever higher levels with repeated exposure.

A landmark global ban on a toxic chemical, a compound called UV-328 which is widely used in plastic packaging, which scientists say would mark ‘the beginning of the end for plastics’ is being considered by the United Nations (stock photo)

Scientists supporting a ban said it would be a ‘watershed’ moment heralding the end for plastics because the additives are an ‘essential’ component of consumer plastic products.

The Mail has been at the forefront of attempts to reduce the amount of plastics in the environment with our Turn the Tide on Plastic campaign.

The Swiss government has put forward a proposal to ban or limit UV-328 to the Stockholm Convention, the UN’s global treaty on cross-border pollutants. Documents obtained from the US Environmental Protection Agency via freedom of information requests show industry attempts to thwart any regulation.

Karissa Kovner, a senior policy adviser at the EPA, has also spoken against action at a UN meeting.

The agency told the Mail its scientists had found the chemical had not met the convention’s requirements in terms of bioaccumulation, long-range transport and adverse effects and so they believed the proposal should be put aside until further studies were completed.

But Professor Hideshige Takada, of Tokyo University, said it should be ‘strictly banned’. He added: ‘Regulation of UV-328 is the beginning of the end of plastics.’

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