Nuclear Pollution

NUTEC Plastics: Using Nuclear Technologies to Address Plastic Pollution

The IAEA hosted the virtual event in collaboration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and countries based in the region. “The regional and global actions outlined in ASEAN’s Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris, the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision and the various international programs of UNEP and ESCAP provide important frameworks,” said Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation. “The IAEA’s contribution will strengthen research capacity and the application of scientific knowledge to combat marine debris, supporting science-based policy and decision making.”

The IAEA has more than 40 ongoing or planned technical cooperation projects, coordinated research projects and other programmatic activities related to radiation technologies and environmental monitoring, of which about 25 projects are directly related to plastics.

High-level officials and experts from Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Thailand presented ongoing national and regional efforts. In China, for example, Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment, shared that by the end of 2022, non-degradable plastic bags and plastic tableware will be banned in many counties, and single-use plastic articles will no longer be provided by hotels. “While making domestic endeavors, we actively participate in international cooperation on marine plastic litter governance and respond to the bilateral and multilateral initiatives in this regard,” he said.

Dechen Tsering, Director for Asia and the Pacific at UNEP, said that the countries in the region have broadened, deepened and accelerated action, reflected in many of the initiatives and measures mentioned by ministers at the NUTEC Plastics roundtable. “There clearly is much scope for sharing and cross fertilization within the region and beyond,” she said.

The IAEA will host similar roundtables for other regions, as well as technical webinars on relevant nuclear technologies and their application against plastic pollution over the next months.

Learn more about the IAEA’s specialized programs Addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

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