Products of Change


Tue 22 Nov 2022 | by Rob Hutchins

Global Plastics Policy Centre calls on UN for '0% plastic pollution by 2040' hardline

The Global Plastics Policy Centre has called on the United Nations to wipe out plastic pollution by 2040 by setting the goal firmly within its Global Plastics Treaty. The Policy Centre – a part of the University of Portsmouth – has asked the UN to aim for a minimum goal of 0% new plastic pollution within the timeframe, stating that without these measures, plastic pollution will only decrease by 7%. Plastic production and subsequent pollution are key drivers of climate change. In an article published in Nature Reviews Earth and Environment, Professor Steve Fletcher, director of the Global Plastics Policy Centre said the target “must be ambitious and meaningful.’ “We are calling for the UN to aim for a minimum goal of 0% new plastic pollution by 2040. To achieve this, policymakers, businesses, researchers, and wider society must go beyond the existing best available technology and practice and be radical in their thinking to develop a coordinated global strategy to tackle plastic pollution.” There are nearly 200 nations committed to the development of the Treaty that sets out to end plastic pollution. However, there is yet to be a set target. As reported by Envirotec Magazine, Professor Fletcher suggests that “at present, there is ambiguity about what ‘ending plastic pollution’ actually means. For the treaty to work it’s vital for there to be a single target and an agreed strategy.” The same paper suggests that expecting countries to clear up all existing plastic pollution is ‘unrealistic’ and should rather focus on stopping new plastic pollution entering the environment. The Global Plastics Policy Centre believes current national plastic policies only address a fraction of the plastic pollution, believing that ambition is limited and policies often only extend the time before plastic become pollution. Professor Fletcher, said: “It is a huge achievement that the development of a global legally binding treaty by the UN to end plastic pollution is underway. But to be effective, the global treaty requires new levels of transparency, disclosure, and cooperation to support evidence-based policymaking that avoids the fragmented and reactionary policies of the past. “A system change needs to arise that fundamentally alters the way we behave and interact with plastic.” Earlier this month, new research from Greenpeace discovered that only 5% of the plastic waste generated by US households last year was recycled. It was found that 51 million tonnes of wrappers, bottles, and bags were discarded in the US in 2021, of which almost 95% ended up in landfills, oceans, or as microplastic particles. The report, Circular Claimns Fall Flat Again, updates the 2020 survey of 370 recycling plants which found most plastics were not widely accepted while even plastic bottles and jugs (PET #1 and HDPE #2 were not completely recycled or recyclable. An internationally legally binding agreement – the UN Global Plastics Treaty – is expected to be in place by 2024.