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Society of Plastics Engineers Receives UN Environment Assembly Accreditation

The accreditation gives SPE observer status in the assembly and enables its participation in negotiations on the global treaty on plastic pollution.

Norbert Sparrow

July 9, 2024

2 Min Read
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Image courtesy of SPE

The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) has received accreditation from the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), putting the organization in the rarefied company of 87 organizations globally, 25 of which are based in the United States. The accreditation establishes SPE within UNEA’s scientific and technological community and provides it with observer status in the assembly. Notably, it enables SPE to actively participate in the activities of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), including the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC), which is currently hashing out a legally binding global treaty on plastic pollution.

An SPE milestone.

The accreditation marks a significant milestone for the association, said SPE President Conor Carlin. “As a science- and engineering-based community, SPE now has an opportunity to influence global environmental policies on plastics based on objective science. This reinforces our commitment to truly sustainable practices within the industry,” said Carlin in a prepared statement.

In 2022, UNEP convened the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution. The committee's mandate is to develop an international legally binding instrument to tackle plastic pollution, with a comprehensive approach covering the entire life cycle of plastics — from production and design to disposal.

Related:Mr. President, the ACC Would Like to Have a Word

A seat at the global plastic pollution treaty table.

The committee’s most recent meeting, INC-4, was held in April 2024 in Ottawa, and met with mixed reviews. While negotiators applauded progress made ahead of the fifth and final round of talks scheduled to begin on Nov. 25, 2024, industry continued to raise concerns about the direction of the negotiations. In particular, NGOs and anti-plastics activists lobbied for extensive global restrictions on plastics production as a way to combat pollution. Speaking ahead of the INC-4 meeting, Plastics Industry Association President Matt Seaholm noted: “These negotiations will be a missed opportunity if we spend the week talking about how to stop the production of plastic, which, unfortunately, has been a focal point at past meetings.” The participation of SPE and like-minded bodies that embrace a science-based approach can bring some much-needed balance to the negotiations.

In the announcement distributed today, Carlin expressed gratitude for the opportunity to “offer our expertise and to contribute to the scientific underpinning of future plastic treaties.”

As an accredited member, SPE said it also will be able to participate in various regional and public meetings, submit written contributions to UNEA working documents, and circulate written statements to governments via the Committee of the Permanent Representatives (CPR).

Invitation to get involved.

SPE added that its accreditation also creates a unique opportunity for those who wish to personally engage in UNEP’s work. Interested parties can:

  • Receive exclusive updates on UNEP’s activities through SPE’s official representatives;

  • provide science-based input on relevant deliberations;

  • participate in crafting statements to UNEP on behalf of SPE and its members.

For those interested in joining this initiative or to learn more about it, visit www.4spe.org/UNEP.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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