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Côte d'Ivoire unveils new environmental code to fight plastic pollution

Ivorian Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, (2nd L) and UNEP Executive Director (L) at the 50th World Environment Day celebrations in Abidjan on June 5, 2023.   -  
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Ivory Coast

The world marked Monday (June 5) the 50th World Environment Day. The Ivorian environment minister announced on the occasion the upcoming implementation of a new environmental code against plastic pollution in the country.

He held a press conference in Abidjan with the Director of the UN Environment Program.

"Any importer of plastic products is responsible for the end-of-life of these products. So that's one of the measures, and it's going to lead decrees [detailing the modalities of application of the law.] These will in turn obviously lead to decrees regulating the waste sector which includes plastic waste," Jean-Luc Assi said.

Côte d'Ivoire's economic capital produces over 288 tonnes of waste each day, according to the UNICEF. A code and bans will not be the only solution, NGOs believe an alternative needs to be presented to consumers.

Indeed, Côte d'Ivoire banned the production, selling and ownership of plastic bags in 2013. Today, the law is hardly enforced in the country, which produces over 200,000 tonnes of plastic bags every year, according to the Ministry of Hydraulics.

" When banning, we have to propose something new", NGO worker Constané Assiélou declares.  "Something that might enable people who are used to using plastic bags to switch to what they're being offered. Unfortunately, this hasn't yet been done, and that's what we're working on."

The theme of this year’s Day was Beat Plastic Pollution. Côte d’Ivoire was this year’s host country. The stakes are high, given that annual plastics production has more than doubled in 20 years to 460 million tonnes, and is on track to triple within four decades.

Last week, delegates gathered in Paris to work to end global plastics pollution agreed to craft a draft treaty.

Participants said delegates at the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for Plastics agreed Friday evening to produce an initial draft before their next meeting in Kenya in November. 

The committee is charged with developing the first international, legally binding treaty on plastic pollution, on land and at sea.

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