The world today discusses how to curb plastic pollution. And Argentina is one of the 175 countries participating in a summit in Paris to find a solution to a problem that is everywhere. The issue triggers several questions, among them, what is the level of pollution that exists in our country by this type of waste and what measures are taken.
The meeting, attended by 1,400 scientists at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, is the second of five negotiating stages that will end with the signing of the United Nations treaty on plastic waste scheduled for 2025. The Argentine delegation is headed by the Deputy Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Nation, Sergio Federovisky, who was also accompanied by the first cartonera deputy, Natalia Zaracho (Frente de Todos).
"We have every interest in advancing in the process and that there is a plastic waste treaty that ends pollution by 2040," Federovisky told Clarín when asked about Argentina's position on the treaty.
Water is a clear example of the impact of plastic waste on the environment. And our country is no stranger to the problem. 70% of the waste found on Buenos Aires beaches is plastic, according to data collected in the last Provincial Census of Marine Coastal Garbage carried out in 2022, as a result of joint work between coastal institutions in 16 Buenos Aires localities.
Waste from fishing on the Argentine beaches of Peninsula Valdes. Photo Marko Magister / Parley.tv
At the same time, a study by researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of California, among other institutions in the United States, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization of Australia in 2015, showed that Argentina was ranked 28th of the 30 countries that most pollute the seaswith plastic waste.
In our country there is no nationwide survey on the level of pollution caused by the use of plastic, Federovisky told Clarín.
Daniela Gomel, a specialist in public policy and governance of Wildlife, considered that this is "a great debt". He added: "The State lacks measures that oblige it or elements to measure pollution. However, we know, from some old calculations, that packaging represents 30% of municipal solid receipts and 70% of that waste is household."
The country's position at the plastic summit
When asked about Argentina's environmental policy, Federovisky said that "Argentina has not only made its international participation a commitment, but also its internal policy."
"We sent the draft Packaging Law and the draft regulation of the Urban Solid Waste Law, which was regulated two months ago and is one of the central principles of the summit. We also have a strong commitment to an investment of more than 100 million dollars in the last two years for the elimination of open-air dumps and the promotion of recycling in different parts of the country, "said the deputy minister.
Finally, he stressed the importance of having "a strong commitment to recyclers and cartoneros, because they are a central link for the treatment of waste."
"We all agree that the promotion of the circular economy is one of the solutions to the problem of plastic waste and that occurs in third world countries thanks to the presence and action of cartoneros," he synthesized.
For her part, when asked about the summit, Gomel said that it is essential to prepare a preliminary draft. "We need to start establishing categories of which plastics to eliminate and which to progressively reduce or circulate safely, but we must wait a year and a half to know the items," he said.
Regarding the national level, the representative of the foundation considered that "the country is one step ahead with respect to the Law of microbeads added to hygiene cosmetics."
However, Gomel warned that "there are a lot of pending issues in Argentina" and pointed out the postponement of the treatment of a Packaging Law.
"A necessary law has been debated in Congress for almost 20 years. There is a debt to the management and responsibility of those who should take care of the waste. That is why we insist a lot on extended producer responsibility and a ban on plastics; However, no progress has been made and then its final sanction fails," he explained.