Defra meets with businesses to help shape global treaty on plastics pollution

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has kickstarted a series of meetings with businesses to help shape the global treaty to end plastics waste, likened to the Paris Agreement for a circular economy.

Defra meets with businesses to help shape global treaty on plastics pollution

Pictured: Plastic pollution in Long Beach

Defra confirmed on Tuesday that it had held its first meeting with a host of corporates and NGOs to gather views and evidence to help shape a legally binding global treaty on plastic pollution.

In partnership with the Ocean Plastics Leadership Network, Defra met with stakeholders including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Coca Cola, Nestle, H&M and Greenpeace. More meetings will be held in the future to help shape the global treaty that the UK is co-sponsoring.

The UN concluded its latest Environment Assembly conference in Nairobi in March this year, with the agreement of terms for a global treaty to stop plastic pollution making headlines.

Two main resolutions had been put forward ahead of the meeting. One, supported by more than 70 nations, including 27 EU member states, included a requirement to reduce plastic production. The other, tabled by Japan and supported by the likes of the US, China, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Palau, did not include this requirement, placing instead a greater focus on scaling recycling and energy-from-waste.

More than 90 businesses – including some of the world’s largest plastic packaging producers like Coca Cola and PepsiCo– as well as 300 scientists, had been urging UN delegates to back the former resolution and to “accept nothing less” than a strong requirement to curb plastic pollution at the very start of the value chain.

Ultimately, attendees from 175 nations agreed on a text which covers the full lifecycle of plastic, from production to waste management. It also covers plastics of all types and sizes, from large pieces of abandoned fishing gear, to nurdles and microplastics. The UK is one of the co-sponsors of this new treaty.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “Plastic pollution has a direct and deadly effect on our wildlife, polluting our ocean and damaging our planet.

“Our laws are already helping to cut waste domestically, and international action is needed to end plastic pollution by 2040. Today’s meeting was important in bringing together government, business and environmental organisations on this issue – it’s vital for us all to work together if we are to make progress in tackling plastic pollution globally.”

As well as co-sponsoring the treaty, the UK is a founding member of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, a group of more than 30 countries calling for a target under the treaty to stop plastic from flowing into our lands and ocean by 2040.

The treaty is built on the alarming fact that a linear economy for plastics is wrecking the planet. Current plastics phase-out commitments around the world will only reduce the annual discharge of plastic into the ocean by 7% by 2040, according to the Breaking the Plastic Wave report.

The UK has moved to reduce its reliance on plastics in the past.

The Government has introduce a new tax on packaging that contains less than 30% recycled plastic, alongside bans on microbeads, straws plastic drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

Under the Environment Bill, Defra has launched consultations on new targets to conserve and restore nature, reduce water and air pollution, improve water efficiency and slash waste.

This includes powers to introduce extended producer responsibility for packaging and deposit return schemes for certain plastic containers.

Click here to read edie’s coverage of the announcement, which lists all the major target proposals.

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