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Plastic bags under debate in Europe

Plastic bags under debate in Europe

Dhanapala “contributed enormously to building a solid foundation upon which the world community will one day fulfill this great ambition,” said Randy Rydell, until recently a senior official for Political Affairs at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. The awardee was short on dismantling nuclear devices with his bare hands, Rydell joked.

Since 2007, the also former ambassador of Sri Lanka has presided over the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, winner of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize.

Precisely that year Dhanapala played a crucial role in the Conference of the States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The IPS award is co-sponsored by the Tokyo-based Buddhist non-governmental organization Soka Gakkai International, which is leading a global campaign to abolish atomic weapons. It will be presented on the 17th of this month in an official ceremony at the UN.

The event, which will be attended by senior officials of the world forum, ambassadors and representatives of the media and civil society, is organized by the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA). "When the Non-Proliferation Treaty was extended indefinitely in 1995, the person most responsible for making nuclear disarmament a permanent legal obligation was Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala," said Douglas Roche, former Canadian senator and ambassador for disarmament issues, as well as professor visitor at the University of Alberta, in dialogue with IPS. According to Roche, Dhanapala's "masterful diplomacy" - which established a link between the powerful nuclear states and the non-nuclear world - was responsible for outlining three specific promises.

First, the systematic and progressive efforts towards the elimination of atomic weapons. Second, a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996. And third, a first conclusion of the negotiations for a ban on fissile materials. "Jayantha raised the global standard and created global awareness that nuclear weapons are incompatible with the full implementation of human rights," said Roche is founding chairman of the Middle Powers Initiative and was chairman of the UN Disarmament Committee in the 43rd General Assembly of the world forum, in 1988.

Jonathan Granoff, president of the Global Security Institute (GSI), told IPS that “no one has done more to preserve and strengthen the international legal system that restricts the spread of nuclear weapons and clearly sets the benchmark for the universal elimination of nuclear weapons. nuclear weapons than Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala ”. "His leadership in the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs and as chairman of the 1995 Extension and Review Conference had its roots in a point of view that clearly guides his life," he added.

When he was a young student, during the Missile Crisis in Cuba, he wondered “how could the two superpowers of the moment place millions of innocent citizens, in non-nuclear and non-aligned states, in the face of the danger of explosion, radiation, climatic effects and genetics of such a weapons trade, ”Granoff recalled.

Dhanapala tirelessly dedicated himself to raising awareness among nations, organizations and individuals, as well as empowering them to act based on the notion that between nuclear weapons and civilization there is only one option: one or the other, he noted.

"His work in the international arena has exemplified the fusion of idealistic aspirations based on universal values ​​and practical politics informed by the limitations of political realities and power," said Granoff, who is also a senior adviser to the Committee on Arms Control and National Security from the American Bar Association.

It was also crucial in reviving the UN's interest in the “disarmament and development” issue, at a time when military spending was increasing again, in the post Cold War, while social and economic needs remained unsatisfied. in vast sectors of the world. Dhanapala served as director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (1987-1992), whose financial base he successfully expanded, as did his areas of study, to include non-military challenges to security. He was also a member of two of the most influential international commissions for promoting nuclear disarmament: the Canberra Commission (1996) and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, or Blix Commission (2006). He then received a grant from the MacArthur Foundation that allowed him to publish his book "Multilateral Diplomacy and the NPT: An Insider’s Account." Among the various institutions whose advisory councils he has served are the Stockholm International Institute for Peace Research and the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces. He was also honorary president of the International Office for Peace.

In all the positions he held during his career, Rydell said, Dhanapala inspired his colleagues to persistently fight for the interests of the global community, even though great obstacles had to be faced.

"One day, nuclear disarmament will finally be achieved in this way," he added. Roche told IPS: "If the nuclear states had met the standards set by Ambassador Dhanapala, today the world would be a safer place."

Previous recipients of the IPS International Achievement Award for their contributions to peace and development include former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2008), former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (2006), the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (2005), the Group of 77 (G-77) developing countries (2000), the former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1995) and the former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari (1991).

Edited by Kitty Stapp Inter Press Service - IPS Venezuela http: //www.ipsnoticias.net The European Council has so far not been very receptive to Parliament's proposal, more in favor of leaving such decisions in the hands of national governments

. For this reason, the negotiations that will take place today and next Monday the 17th, within the revision process of the Directive on packaging waste, are expected to be difficult. If no agreement is reached, the proposal will have to return to the game board at the risk of being thrown out entirely. The stalemate in the European Parliament's proposal, according to environmental organizations, is due, in part, to the United Kingdom and other member states that have recently joined the EU, which reject Parliament's more restrictive proposals.

"This basically amounts to a lack of respect, be it the environment or public opinion. Despite strong backing among political groups in Parliament for the proposal and massive popular support for the cuts, the UK and some other countries on the Council persist in showing utter disregard for the dire environmental consequences of plastic bag contamination, "said Piotr Barczak, Policy Officer for the European Environmental Office on waste. Each European uses an average of 500 bags per year, of which 92% are single-use and, due to their lightness and small dimensions, they tend to escape waste management and end up in the environment, where they can take hundreds of years to disappear.

The European Commission estimates that an 80% reduction target would save public administrations, manufacturers and retailers up to 650 million euros per year between 2015 and 2020. On “oxo-biodegradable” plastic bags Another bone of contention is related with oxo-degradable plastic bags. Parliament wants to ban them given the evidence that they are neither biodegradable nor compostable. Some sources have even pointed out that a coalition has been formed in the UK to oppose the initiative. This country is the mother house of one of the largest companies that commercialize this type of bags, whose board of directors includes a certain active MEP and some names of high political profile in the past. Your industry has called for a full environmental impact assessment of “oxo-biodegradable” plastic bags, since MEPs have not reached an agreement on whether their ban is necessary.

Manufacturers have highlighted in a recent statement that an independent review of these bags (conventional plastic bags enhanced with additives that catalyze end-of-life degradation) is needed. "We believe that the European Parliament's amendments against oxo-biodegradable plastic bags have been orchestrated by interest groups belonging to the plant-based plastics industry," states the Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics Association (OPA) in said statement. The OPA also accuses Italy of having tried to persuade Member States (when it held the Presidency of the European Council) to accept an agreement outlining the possible negative impacts of these types of bags, which would have a "detrimental" effect on the industry.

Italy adopted in 2011 a ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags, which led to an infringement procedure by the European Commission on the reasons for the restriction of the free movement of goods.

At the time of the original infringement proceeding, the UK filed a complaint claiming that the Italian standard for biodegradability only favored Italian producers who produce plant-based bags.

The Commission is expected to re-examine its decision once the new EU legislation is adopted, as it gives Member States the right to adopt such restrictions on marketing. Scientists from Blaise Pascal University in France argue that the proposal to ban "oxo-biodegradable" bags is based on "misinformation" and that it hampers the development of the industry in Europe.

But a Plastics Europe study has found that once "oxo-biodegradable" bags fragment into microplastics in the environment, the biodegradability of these fragments is "at least questionable and irreproducible."

"Everyone, including plastic recyclers and composters, is very concerned - except perhaps the 'oxo-biodegradable' plastic industry - hence Parliament voted with a clear majority on two occasions to ban them," said the MEP Margrete Auken. For its part, France has already announced that it will ban, as of 2016, the use of plastic bags that are not biodegradable or compostable. Ireland introduced a tax that has reduced the consumption of plastic bags by almost 90%.

From cradle to cradle


Video: How Sweden is turning its waste into gold (June 2021).