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UNEP joins discussions on ways to eliminate plastic and microplastic pollution in Brussels

National and international experts have at a stakeholder meeting identified and debated ways in which plastic and microplastic pollution in the aquatic environment can be prevented.

The meeting, entitled ‘Eliminating Plastic and Microplastic Pollution- an urgent need,’ was held at the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands in Brussels on May 12.

The Austrian Minister for the Environment Andrä Rupprechter, the Deputy Secretary of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment John Mouat and Thomas Jakl of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management were joined by UNEP Brussels’ Head of Office Ulf Björnholm as keynote speakers at the event.

The conference aimed to initially frame the challenge by exposing the alarming evidence that marine organisms at all levels of the food web ingest plastic and microplastic, which is thus entering the food chain. “In our oceans we have more plastic than fish eggs,” noted Jakl, who is responsible for chemicals policy at the Ministry.

The event also aimed at identifying concrete solutions to prevent plastic - used as an ingredient in products as cosmetics and detergents - being discharged into the environment through wastewater, thus affecting our habitat and health.

In this context, Mr Björnholm presented UNEP’s work in tackling the challenge of microplastic pollution in the oceans and identified tangible steps for eliminating plastic and microplastic pollution in the aquatic environment. The European Institutions and their member states should “set the example for the rest of the world,” he stressed, pointing to the upcoming EU circular economy package.

For more information: and the European Commission’s Capacity for Development webpage.

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