IAEA organized a roundtable on 2 September 2021, where Ministers from African countries and international representatives joined to discuss a nuclear technique to reduce plastic problems.
Over 400 members of 46 countries of Africa were present in this roundtable, and more than 340 members were from countries across Asia. There were also a nuclear technologist and several participants who are experts in various industries.
With history, innovation and growth of 40 years, NUTEC was founded in 1975. Since then, the only purpose of this is to provide stable solutions to ongoing plastic pollution. According to Science Advances, between 1950 to 2015, only 9 per cent of used plastics were recycled, and 17 per cent remains in use.
Most dangerous of all that 60 per cent remained on land or underwater, damaging the ecosystem, and 12 per cent started to release gases that are toxic to the environment.
This report also stated that by 2025, the ocean would have 1-tonne plastic in every 3 tonnes of fish, and by 2050, the sea will have more plastics than fish.
The IAEA has been pioneering the NUTEC Plastics to assist countries in integrating nuclear and isotopic techniques alongside conventional techniques to stand against plastic pollution.
NUTEC Plastics highlighted the nuclear technologies to recycle plastic waste by using radiation technology and isotopic tracing techniques to monitor microplastics of oceans and rivers, which is called “Marine Monitoring.”
The Roundtable Event
Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Department Head of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, said: “Nuclear solution against plastic pollution will only work if the full potential of worldwide technologies helping every state to integrate nuclear technologies and techniques in their national and regional efforts to combat plastic pollution.”
NUTEC held the event with over 400 participants from 46 countries in Africa, with high-level officials from Ghana, Djibouti, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya, and United Nations Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) representatives, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
All the embers of this meeting heard about and carried a crucial discussion about the availability of nuclear technologies, the procedure of recycling plastic waste, and how to monitor plastic pollutions of the underwaters such as rivers, oceans, etc.
They interchanged information on existing technologies and programmes, such as industry practices, regional initiatives, and capacity building activities.
They elaborated opportunities to strengthen partnerships and synergies to do something against plastic pollution from the source of the sea.
Peter Thomson, the United Nations Secretary-General, said, “Recently the state of the oceans’ health pretty damaged because of excessive use of plastics and it is scientifically measurable.
One of the most important tasks of our time is to stop that decline and to rebuild better health of the oceans,
Hua Liu, Deputy Director-General and Head of the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation, said. “Our discussions have come to the point that we need to move away from the way we use plastic today.
We must step away from the linear ‘take-make-waste model and move towards a sustainable circular economy for plastics, built on the 4R principles: reduce, reuse, recycle and renew,”
“Through NUTEC Plastics, the IAEA wants synergies and partnerships with other international efforts,” he added.
“It will also give a solid opportunity and platform for North-South, South-South, and triangular cooperation on marine plastic pollution and recycling.
Dechen Tsering, the famous Director of Asia and UNEP’s Pacific, suggested that every country worldwide needs to participate in resolving the issue we have been causing for years now.
She highlighted those discussions mentioned by the ministers at the NUTEC. She said, “There is a possibility as well as opportunity to share and to cross-fertilize within a nation and even beyond it.
The next NUTEC Plastics roundtable for the European region will take place on 7 October.