Plastic Makers Support a Global Agreement to Eliminate Plastic Waste

For the first time the international community has agreed to develop a legally binding treaty to end plastic in our environment. That’s great news. How should it work?
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The global plastic industry supports development of an international agreement addressing plastic waste and plastic marine litter, through sustainable consumption and production, design and technology innovation, and infrastructure investment. This requires collaboration between governments, the private sector, civil society, and academia to identify and replicate solutions at scale.  

We supported the resolution at the 5th meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (February 2022) that launched negotiation on a global agreement. 

Our Vision 

Our vision: Prevent leakage of plastic into the environment and achieve universal access to waste collection. Plastic products should be valued for their contribution to achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and be sustainably produced, used, and recovered in a circular economy.  

Essential to Achieving Sustainability and Climate Goals  

Plastic is essential to achieving the SDGs and meeting national commitments under the Paris Agreement. Plastic is vital to addressing society’s largest challenges, including improving medical outcomes, access to fresh and healthy foods, hygiene and sanitation, modern communication, transportation systems, infrastructure, and employment.

For example, through lightweighting cars and insulating buildings, plastic reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. These benefits are jeopardized if plastic waste pollutes our environment.  

We propose 5 Principles for a global agreement to end plastic waste. 

  1. HAVE ALL NATIONS AGREE TO ELIMINATE PLASTIC WASTE.
    Adopt the G20’s 2050 Osaka Blue Ocean Vision. Allow countries flexibility to develop regionally appropriate national action plans to eliminate plastic waste leakage based on local circumstances.
  2. ACHIEVE WIDESPREAD ACCESS TO WASTE COLLECTION. 
    Ensure access and improve waste management capacity. Support technology deployment, such as chemical/advanced and mechanical recycling, to increase circularity of plastic.
  3. RECOGNIZE THE ROLE PLASTIC PLAYS IN A LOWER CARBON FUTURE. 
    Support life cycle analysis to evaluate impacts of plastic and alternatives.
  4. SUPPORT INNOVATION IN PRODUCT DESIGN AND RECYCLING TECHNOLOGY. 
    Develop global guidance (with industry input) on product design, recycled content, and optimizing resources.
  5. MEASURE PROGRESS. 
    Establish (with industry input) globally harmonized definitions and reporting metrics on plastic and plastic waste, using validated and harmonized methodologies.  

Countries Need Domestic Flexibility to Achieve Global Goals 

Efforts to regulate plastic globally – through the development of regulatory standards, product-specific obligations, or international sustainability criteria – undermine our vision of eliminating plastic waste. Flexibility is important for countries to adapt their regulatory frameworks and prevent adverse environmental, health, and socioeconomic impacts.  

Globally mandated controls should not be imposed on production and consumption of plastic or plastic products. Impacts of proposed measures must be assessed to reduce regrettable substitutions.  

As member states move forward with the development of a new global agreement – engaging business, industry associations, and other stakeholders to identify and then implement regionally appropriate measures – it is critical to achieve the goal of eliminating leakage of plastic into the environment. 

The United Nations Environment Assembly has passed a landmark resolution to launch negotiations on a global treaty to keep plastic out of our environment. How should it work? 

UNEA Takes Big Step Toward Global Plastic Treaty. U.S. Can Set Tone by Passing 5 Actions.