NGOs and businesses call for UN treaty on plastic pollution
Published on 14 October 2020
Today, the Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched a joint communications campaign calling for a legally binding UN treaty on plastic pollution.
Every day we don’t solve the plastic pollution crisis, it gets worse. Millions of tonnes of plastic leak into the environment, end up in landfills or are burned because of our take-make-waste linear economylinear economyAn economy in which finite resources are extracted to make products that are used - generally not to their full potential - and then thrown away ('take-make-waste').. This is harming nature, using up natural resources, and contributing to the climate and biodiversity crises, while billions of dollars worth of valuable materials are being lost to the economy.
Voluntary agreements and existing measures cannot solve the problem alone. Many companies have taken important voluntary steps, laying the foundations for wide-reaching cooperation, but they cannot reach the scale we need to urgently solve this crisis. Plastic pollution doesn’t stop at or care about borders, so countries and organisations can’t fix the problem on their own. It is a global challenge that needs a coordinated and globally aligned response.
The Foundation and WWF are calling for a treaty on plastic pollution that:
Has a clear focus on ways we can stop the problem before it starts - not just how to improve cleaning it up. Through a circular economycircular economyA systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. It is based on three principles, driven by design: eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials (at their highest value), and regenerate nature. approach, we can address the entire lifecycle of plastics by focusing upstream to design out waste before it is created.
Sets global standards. We need an agreement that sets harmonised standards and gives clear definitions for success. Common regulations which are applicable to all countries will create a level playing field across different geographies, and help to strengthen and support current efforts.
Supports all countries to play their part. Governments and industries around the world need to align on a common direction of travel and coordinated efforts. The treaty needs to enable all participating countries by giving them the tools, knowledge, and robust frameworks to create a circular economy for plastics.
Pressure has been mounting on the international community for a legally binding treaty: more than 2 million people around the world have signed a WWF petition, and more than ¾ of UN member states have also backed those calls.
When governments meet at the UN Environment Assembly in February, they have an unprecedented opportunity to start negotiating a treaty that provides a solution to plastic pollution.
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