En+ Group and the UN Hold First Roundtable Discussion on Microplastics in Russia

ESG news


february, 2020

11 February 2020 – En+ Group, a leading vertically-integrated aluminium and power producer, the UN Environment Programme and the Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IEE RAS) organized a roundtable discussion, called: “Microplastics – an invisible threat of a global scale”. This was the first event of its kind with such significant participation by representatives from governmental authorities, businesses, academia and NGOs.

Seas and oceans are contaminated with 8.4 mln tonnes of plastic every year, with 600 thousand tonnes of fishing nets responsible for the deaths of almost 360 thousand marine mammals. The volume of plastic in the world’s waterbodies is increasing, with scientists today observing large clusters of micro and nano plastics ranging from 0.2 to 5 mm. The impact of these particles on sea ecosystems and humans is yet to be fully understood.

The impact of microplastics is under-researched in Russia, despite evidence that this is a growing issue. In summer 2019, an En+ Group-led expedition to Lake Baikal revealed that the level of plastic contamination at the lake is equivalent to that of the Great Lakes in the USA. The key difference is that the so-called anthropogenic impact on Baikal (the number of people living in its vicinity) is 10 times less.

That is why a key outcome of the roundtable discussion was the recommendation that a working group should be created to bring together research into both micro and macroplastics contamination, after which a strategy can be drawn up to control and prevent further contamination. All of the event participants supported this initiative, including representatives of corporations, Russian Parliament, the Ministry of Natural resources of the Russian Federation, Russian network UNGC, WWF Russia, Russian environmental NGOs, and Russian academic institutes (Moscow State University, Institute of Ecology and Evolution – under the auspices of the Russian academy of sciences) and other institutions.

Vladimir Kiryukhin, CEO, En+ Group, commented:

“The impact of microplastics on waterbody ecosystems has so far been under-investigated in Russia and was a key issue identified during our research trip to Lake Baikal this year. The preservation of the lake is a key element of En+ Group’s strategy. Therefore, we fully support initiatives to combat plastics contamination.”

Vyacheslav Rozhnov. Director of IEE RAS, commented:

“It is obvious that today we need to understand how microplastics go through organisms, which mechanisms allow them to be absorbed into the basic level of the food chain, how a living creature can accumulate them and what problems this might cause. We are pleased that En+ Group have shown such a deep understanding of the problem and a strong sense of responsibility. Their understanding of the importance of scientific researches in the area make us hope that jointly we’ll find a solution to this problem.”

Marina Vashukova, Executive Director, Association National Network of the Global Compact, commented:

“Plastics and microplastics are one of our most critical issues, and represent an existential risk for humanity. It is extremely important that we bring together scientific, business, societal, Russian and international expertise to aid the development of the ENquiry project, supported by the UN Global Compact of Russia”.

Ekaterina Tegina, Communication Advisor of the Russian Office of UN Environment Programme, commented:

“To solve the problem of plastics contamination of the environment we need a comprehensive approach, including inputs from public authorities, businesses, scientists, international organizations and stakeholders. We would like to express gratitude to both RUSAL and En+ Group for their active role in promoting this issue”.


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