The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) INC-3 conference in Nairobi, held from 13 to 19 November, marked a significant gathering for international environmental policy-making. EUMEPS, as part of the Global EPS Sustainability Alliance (GESA), actively participated, contributing to the international discussions. This engagement was not only a demonstration of commitment to EPS sustainability but also an opportunity to showcase the benefits of EPS to global regulators and rebuff recurrent claims that EPS is a major source of plastics pollution.
The Vital Role of the GESA Delegation: Presenting the chances EPS offers for a global sustainable policy
The EUMEPS delegation, under GESA’s umbrella, joined forces with EPS-IA, EWASA, EPS Australia, AMEPS, and EPSbranchen, along with individual members from Styropek and Atlas Roofing. The team, including Lea Salihovic-Saric, Chresten Heide-Anderson, and Jürgen Lang, was instrumental in showcasing EPS recycling at scale and in practice, reinforcing the material’s sustainable advantages over alternatives.
The Stakes: Defending Expanded Polystyrene’s Image
There was a tangible risk at the conference that polystyrene as a whole could be qualified as a “problematic and unnecessary” polymer. Addressing this, the delegation sought to correct misconceptions and challenge ideologically driven narratives by highlighting EPS’s lower carbon footprint and its critical role in transporting vital goods, from electronics to life-saving vaccines and organs.
The Achievements: Building Foundations and Challenging Misconceptions
The conference proved fruitful as the delegation established numerous contacts with key UN Member States, academia, and NGOs. These connections are pivotal for EUMEPS’ ongoing advocacy, setting the stage for continued dialogue at the upcoming INC-4 in Ottawa.
Gaining Insights and Communicating Positions
Beyond formal sessions, the delegation gained access to insider knowledge, witnessing the intricate negotiations first-hand. Through bilateral meetings and side events, EUMEPS effectively communicated the industry’s stance, advocating for the recognition of EPS’s sustainable profile and circular potential.
Looking Forward: Strategic Follow-Up and Next Steps
In the lead-up to INC-4, GESA and EUMEPS will utilise the intercessional period to provide stakeholders with comprehensive information and studies, strengthening the case for EPS. As negotiations evolve, GESA will refine its position to reflect changes in the draft text and scope of the treaty, ensuring that EPS’s voice is heard and its merits duly recognised.
A Steadfast Journey Towards Sustainability
The UNEP INC-3 conference has been a pivotal juncture for the EPS industry, with EUMEPS playing a central role in shaping the narrative around plastics and sustainability. As the journey towards a more circular future continues, EUMEPS remains dedicated to advocating for the EPS industry, proving its value as a sustainable material, and contributing to the global transition towards climate neutrality. The groundwork laid in Nairobi will be instrumental in forging ahead with confidence and clarity at the next international gathering in Ottawa.