Top Stories

March 03, 2022


UN plastics treaty: attendees agree on plastic lifecycle text

The fifth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) has now concluded, with attendees from 175 nations agreeing on a text to slow and ultimately halt plastic pollution, covering the full lifecycle of plastic, from production to waste management. The agreement covers plastics of all types and sizes, from fishing gear to microplastics. A key focus for attendees has been negotiating a final treaty with two resolutions put forward. One including a requirement to reduce plastic pollution supported by 70 nations and 27 EU member states, and the other, tabled by Japan and supported by the US, China, and other states, placing a greater focus on scaling recycling rather than reduction. The UN is aiming to complete a finalised treaty by 2024, with expectations that certain provisions in the treaty may be legally binding. (edie)


Refillable groceries to be available to every UK shopper

UK supermarkets Waitrose, Ocado, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer and supply chain company CHEP have joined a refillable grocery partnership plan to roll out unpackaged options in-stores. The partnership will allow shoppers to have access to refillable groceries in supermarket stores or with a home delivery service. These grocers are part of the Refill Coalition group, run by Unpackaged, a company that runs refill stations in stores including supermarket chain Planet Organic. Supermarkets will start their refill lines with dry goods such as pasta, rice, cereals, seeds, grains, nuts and dried fruits. They will then offer refillable household and personal care products, such as washing-up liquid, laundry liquid and shampoo. There are currently an estimated 56.5 billion units of single-use plastic packaging sold annually in the UK, according to environmental NGO Greenpeace. (The Guardian)


Honduras to ban open pits and cancel permits for mining

The Honduran government has announced it will cancel environmental permits for metal and non-metal mining, describing the industry as “harmful”. The government is to explicitly prohibit open-pit mining and added that natural areas with “high ecological value” will be preserved. A government statement tells that "approval of permits for extractive exploitation [are] cancelled due to being harmful to the state of Honduras, threatening natural resources, public health and because they limit access to water as a human right.” It is not clear whether the permit cancellations will also apply to existing projects. The announcement follows the election of as President Xiamara Castro to office in January, who pledged to limit mining and to pull Honduras “out of the abyss” caused by failed economic policies and corruption. (Reuters)


Only 6% of G20 pandemic spending ‘green’, analysis finds

New analysis published in the journal Nature from professors at the John Hopkins University has found that only 6% of G20 pandemic recovery spending was “green”. Of the $14 trillion governments spent on pandemic recovery, about 3% was spent on activities that will increase carbon emissions, such as subsidies to coal. The analysis concludes that governments missed an opportunity to direct spending towards economic recovery that could have contributed to emissions reductions. The UK performed particularly poorly, with only 10% of its stimulus spending going towards measures that could reduce emissions. The EU performed better, with more than 30% of its stimulus judged as green, Meanwhile, the US shows a mixed picture with some of its stimulus package passing successfully, and some entailing further green spending stuck in Congress. (The Guardian)


Inequality and austerity undermine UK life expectancy

The UK government’s ambition to add five years to healthy life expectancy by 2035 as part of its “level up” agenda will take close to two centuries to achieve, according to research by UK charity the Health Foundation. The findings highlight a decline in increases to life expectancy in the UK over the past decade, leaving the UK out of step with many comparable nations that have managed to maintain longevity gains. Research shows the rate of improvement in life expectancy is in decline across the UK, as well as a rise in inequality of life expectancy with declining expectancy most pronounced among the poorest, especially in women. The research does not include data from the past two years, in which the pandemic is expected to have delivered a shock to public health. (Financial Times)*

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