Businesses and NGOs convene to advocate for ambitious plastic pollution treaty

The Treaty will apply to all UN member countries but, as has been the case with the Paris Agreement, each nation will need to draw up its own plans for delivery taking into account its own specific context.

The vision will form the basis for future policy engagements with governments through a newly launched business coalition for a global plastics treaty. This will be convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WWF.

The coalition has been created to ensure that the voice of businesses and NGOs is heard as unified as UN member-states work to formalise a global treaty to end plastic pollution. The broad terms of the treaty were agreed upon this spring following discussions in Nairobi. Attendees agreed that the treaty should cover all parts of the plastic life-cycle, thus leading to a decrease in virgin plastic production as well as improvements to waste management and recycling.

Organisations participating in the new coalition see the global treaty as the “single most important opportunity to accelerate progress” towards a circular economy in which plastic never becomes waste or pollution, and the value of products and materials is retained in the economy.

The treaty negotiation process, which is expected to conclude at the end of 2024, will largely determine the trajectory of the plastic pollution crisis for generations to come.

WWF’s vice president and head of plastic waste and business Erin Simon said: “We have no time to waste. The need for global coordination to tackle the plastic pollution crisis has never been more urgent, a business coalition for a global plastics treaty will push strongly for a framework that leaves the business-as-usual approach at the door and ushers us into a new era where ending plastic pollution is finally within reach.”

Simon added: “The plastic crisis extends beyond all borders, impacting the health of our oceans and wildlife, and the livelihoods of people from major cities to small coastal communities. The scope and scale of this global issue must be met with equally ambitious solutions.”

Ahead of the first Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) meeting scheduled for the end of November this year, the endorsing organisations are calling out the need for a global treaty which sets common goals, rules and obligations that member states will be required to implement within their national jurisdictions.

For businesses and investors, this means creating a level playing field and preventing a patchwork of disconnected solutions.

The organisations insist the treaty must support progress on a number of key outcomes.These include the reduction of plastic production and use through a circular economy approach, increased circulation of necessary plastic and the prevention, and remediation of hard-to-abate micro and macro-plastic leakage into the environment.

Rob Opsomer, executive lead of systemic initiatives at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “Many companies and countries are already taking important steps to address plastic pollution, but voluntary action alone cannot reach the scale we need to urgently solve this crisis. An ambitious global plastics treaty is required.

“That is why today we are announcing, in partnership with WWF, plans to form a business coalition for a global plastics treaty.

“This coalition will bring together businesses from across the plastics value chain to support the development of an ambitious and effective treaty – one that accelerates the transition to a circular economy and ensures the value of products and materials is not lost but retained. Plastic can no longer be allowed to become waste or pollution.”

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