First draft of UN’s legally binding Global Plastics Treaty published

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the first draft of its legally binding Global Plastics Treaty which aims to eliminate plastic pollution worldwide by 2040.

Global Plastics Treaty plastic pollutionThe ‘zero draft’, published yesterday (4 September), does not include specific targets at this stage but sets an agenda for the plastic items to be given priority focus – for example, those that are hardest to recycle. The specifics of these plastics are yet to be determined.

The zero draft also includes the allowance for countries to create their own implementation plans to meet the ultimate goal of ending plastic pollution by 2040.

Negotiations on the Treaty began in November 2022. In June this year, the second round of negotiations concluded with the agreement between more than 165 countries to publish this first draft by November 2023.

The final version of the Treaty is expected to be ratified in 2024 after which the UNEP will create a central body to facilitate its delivery and cooperation between member states.

Campaigners react to zero draft of Global Plastics Treaty

Campaigners have applauded aspects of the zero draft, in particular its positioning of reuse. City to Sea welcomed the inclusion of reuse targets and labelled them ‘a potential gamechanger’ in the global campaign against plastic pollution.

City to Sea’s Policy Manager Steve Hynd said: “City to Sea have long maintained that reuse targets are one of the most important policy instruments we have to tackle plastic pollution. By embedding reuse targets governments can give the private sector the confidence it needs to both move to existing refill and reuse systems but to also invest in the research that’s needed to mainstream reuse in packaging.”

Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet and Plastic Health Council, added: …[The] single-use culture that has been so rapidly normalised has to be stopped – reusable packaging and natural alternatives are the future. One day we will question why it was ever acceptable to use the material and energy to make packaging that we trash after just one use.

“I am heartened to see that the UN has recognised that to embrace a new age of reuse is to cut the head off the toxic single-use snake.

“Governments must be the catalyst for business to embrace reuse at scale and innovate plastic out of our lives. The introduction of the Global Plastics Treaty would be the first step on the road to change and protect both the health of humans and the planet.

“In the UK, I call on Prime Minister Sunak to sit up and take note. After years of delay and inaction, it is now time for Britain to drive forward effective environmental policy on the global stage and remove our heads from the sand.”

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