Plastics treaty

Marian Ledesma
Thursday, Dec 01, 2022

In March, there was a collective cheer when United Nations member states adopted a historic resolution to end plastic pollution during the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi. Governments agreed to start work on a global, legally binding agreement that addresses the full lifecycle of plastic and that will come into effect in 2024. The decision has been called ambitious, revolutionary, and historic.

The resolution established an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to put together the text of the agreement. Its first meeting will begin on November 28 in Uruguay.

Thinking of the upcoming negotiations for the plastics treaty has me swinging between high hopes and anxiety. I can see how the plastics treaty can finally end the age of throwaway plastic.

The world has an opportunity to forge an ambitious global plastics treaty – a solution that can match the scale of this global crisis.

On the other hand, I have seen how the most promising policies can go awry when the interests of big businesses are threatened. Corporations pour millions

into blocking, delaying,

and undermining legislative efforts and global agreements.

At the same time, big brands make pledges to cut plastic use but consistently fall short of fulfilling their public commitments.

Around the world, plastic regulations have been enacted, yet much more needs to be done. Front-line communities are still grappling with plastic pollution in all its forms. The Global South bears the biggest social and environmental costs of sachet production, waste trade, and waste burning. In the Philippines – one of the biggest recipients of plastic waste from all over the world – our communities disproportionately bear the brunt of environmental degradation caused by pollution with plastics.

We are at risk because plastic production remains unchecked, and companies, in league with big oil, continue to burden us with their disposable packaging that harms our health and the climate just so they can maximise their profits.

This is why it is essential that the Global Plastics Treaty immediately limit and reduce total plastic production and use. Cutting the amount of plastic that companies make and use is in line with the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as 99 percent of plastics are made from fossil fuels. Ending the corporate addiction to single-use plastic is a vital step towards addressing climate change and protecting communities.

The Global Plastics Treaty we need must stop excessive plastic production, must keep oil and gas in the ground, and must mainstream refill and reuse systems.

We must ensure not only justice but a just transition for affected groups and the most vulnerable stakeholders, such as fenceline communities in “sacrifice zones” near plastic production facilities, fisherfolk and workers across the plastics supply chain.

Excerpted from: ‘We Need a Global Treaty More Powerful Than the Plastics Industry’. Courtesy: