NUTEC Plastic - NUclear TEchnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (Circular Economy Webinar Series Session 12)

Series: ADB Data Room: Circular Economy

NUTEC Plastic - NUclear TEchnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (Circular Economy Webinar Series Session 12)

16 March 2023

There are about 12 million tons of plastic that enter the oceans every year. The oceans are expected to contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish. Plastic pollution is a major concern in the Asia and Pacific Region, where nearly half of the global plastic leakage from land to sea comes from countries in Southeast Asia.

Approximately 70% of all plastics produced to date are now waste and of this, only, 9% have been recycled. In many places, plastic waste is mismanaged and ends up in unregulated landfills or open dumps from where it enters the ocean. Plastic waste pollution has not only adverse effects on the oceans but also on terrestrial environments such as soil and groundwater. Plastic does not decompose even as waste due to its durability and longevity. When it reaches the ocean it can remain there for hundreds of years, and over time it fragments and turns into micro- and nano-plastic and enter the fish bodies, and subsequently our food chain and ends up entering our bodies. More data is needed to advance the understanding of the sources of these contaminants, their distribution, trends, and effects on marine organisms. 

To address this global challenge, the IAEA has launched the NUclear TEChnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (NUTEC Plastics) Initiative. NUTEC Plastics builds on the IAEA’s efforts to deal with plastic pollution through recycling using radiation technology and marine monitoring using isotopic tracing techniques. NUTEC Initiative consists of downstream (Marine Plastic Monitoring) and upstream (Plastic Recycling) components. The IAEA has developed strategic, four-staged approaches for both components ultimately aiming at building a network of laboratories for monitoring and assessing the impact of marine microplastics (for the Downstream component) and constructing the irradiation-assisted plastic recycling plants in selected countries followed by ultimate upscaling of technology to commercialization in cooperation with private partners (for Upstream component).

During the webinar, IAEA staff provided an overview of principles and approaches used under NUTEC Initiative components and will share updates on the progress achieved and the plans for the next steps in Asia and the Pacific. 

Program and Learning Materials: 
Date Session / Activity Presentation Material Speaker(s)
16 Mar 2023 Presentation NUTEC Plastic - NUclear TEchnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution
This presentation gives an overview of how to enhance plastic recycling to complement conventional practices and production of sustainable alternatives...
Denis Subbotnitskiy


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