Crisis to Action: the World’s Battle Against Plastic Pollution

IndyACT is part of a global advocacy campaign to ensure that world reaches a new global treaty on Plastics. The growing global awareness of the plastics pollution crisis, has triggered the process to initiate negotiations for an international treaty on plastic pollution under the United Nations (UN). IndyACT is spearheading an advocacy campaign in the region to ensure that the Arab countries play a constructive role in these international negotiations.

Lebanon has predominantly relied on emergency fixes in SWM, which lack a long-term, sustainable management perspective and focus on waste at its end-of-life stage. These measures impose high economic burdens on Lebanese citizens, with expenditure to manage solid waste reaching $2.2 billion between 1996 and 2015 and the cost of the resulting environmental degradation reaching $200 million (0.4% of GDP) in 2018.

Plastic waste contributes substantially to escalating costs and challenges associated with managing solid waste. Lebanon’s struggle with plastic waste is particularly alarming, with approximately 4.5 million kgs. of plastic waste generated daily, resulting in the widespread pollution of cities, landscapes, and coastlines. This overreliance on plastic has also given rise to the accumulation of microplastics in water, air and organisms; making Lebanon’s tap water the second-highest in the concentration of these small plastic particles globally, and the average Lebanese resident consuming over 30,000 small pieces of plastic annually from seafood alone.

It has become more urgent than ever to shift focus from end-of-life management processes and landfill expansion to reducing waste generation, especially for plastics. Recycling and incineration, traditionally relied upon, have proven to be cost-inefficient and contribute to escalating environmental and health issues.

Recognizing the transboundary nature of plastics, IndyACT has stressed the importance of international cooperation to establish extensive solutions that transcend individual borders. To this end, we, together with other civil society organizations, are actively working to build a coalition of Arab NGOs to urge the governments of the region to proactively and constructively engage in the international ‘Plastics’ negotiations.

As global negotiations for an international treaty on plastic pollution unfold at the UN, Lebanon’s active participation becomes paramount.