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EPSA’s Reflections from the UNEP INC-3 Conference

By December 5, 2023April 22nd, 2024News3 min read

Expanded Polystyrene Australia (EPSA), in collaboration with the Global EPS Sustainability Alliance (GESA), recently participated in the pivotal UNEP INC-3 conference, in Nairobi, held from 13 to 19 November. This event marked a significant milestone in international environmental policy-making, with EPSA actively contributing to discussions, particularly focusing on the Australian market’s perspective.

The Role of EPSA at the UNEP INC-3 conference

As a key member of the Global EPS Sustainability Alliance (GESA) delegation, EPSA significantly contributed to showcasing the environmental benefits of EPS recycling. Collaborating with EPS-IA, EWASA, AMEPS, and EPSbranchen, as well as representatives from Styropek and Atlas Roofing, our collective efforts were pivotal in demonstrating EPS’s high recyclability. Through initiatives like StyroCycle, we’ve highlighted the feasibility of diverting EPS waste from landfills and converting it into valuable products. This collaboration underscored the practicality and scalability of EPS recycling, further emphasizing its role in sustainable waste management practices.

 

Defending EPS in the Global Arena

The conference highlighted several challenges, particularly the misconception of EPS as a problematic material. The delegates proactively addressed these concerns by underscoring EPS’s lower carbon footprint and its indispensable role in the global economy. We emphasized that EPS packaging is crucial in industries like appliances and electronics, significantly reducing breakage costs. Its protective properties ensure safe transport of delicate goods, from high-value electronics to essential medical supplies like vaccines and organs. By demonstrating how EPS contributes to economic efficiency and product safety, the delegation reinforced the material’s position as a sustainable, cost-effective solution in critical sectors of the global economy.

 

Gaining Insights and Shaping Industry Stance

Beyond formal sessions, EPSA gained valuable insights, witnessing the intricacies of international negotiations. Through bilateral meetings and side events, we effectively communicated the industry’s stance, advocating for the recognition of EPS’s sustainable profile and circular potential. A notable example was our meeting with KEPRO Kenya in Nairobi, where we agreed to work jointly on establishing an Extended Producer Responsibility Program. This initiative is a significant step towards enhancing environmental stewardship and promoting sustainable practices. It will involve developing comprehensive strategies for EPS waste management, including recycling and reusing EPS materials. This collaboration is expected to set a precedent for similar partnerships in the future, further strengthening our commitment to environmental sustainability and responsible production practices.

 

Global EPS Sustainability Alliance meeting with KEPRO Kenya in Nairobi

 

Looking Ahead: EPSA’s Strategic Focus

As we approach INC-4, EPSA as part of the GESA delegation is focused on providing comprehensive information and studies to stakeholders, reinforcing the case for EPS. We aim to adapt our position to reflect changes in treaty texts, ensuring EPS’s voice is heard and its merits recognized, both in Australia and globally.

 

Conclusion: EPSA’s Journey Towards Sustainability

The UNEP INC-3 conference has been a pivotal point for EPSA, solidifying our commitment to advocating for EPS as a sustainable material. This event has strengthened our resolve to support a sustainable and circular economy, emphasizing our role in the global transition towards climate neutrality. The groundwork laid in Nairobi is instrumental in forging ahead with confidence and clarity, particularly in the Australian market.