In March 2022, at its fifth session, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) adopted resolution 5/14 titled “End plastic pollution: Towards an international legally binding instrument,” convening an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) to develop a new global agreement on plastic pollution. Negotiators must now move swiftly to agree to measures across the full lifecycle of plastic to end plastic pollution.
Virgin plastic production and consumption have reached unsustainable levels. Overproduction has meant inexpensive virgin plastic is used freely and inefficiently, with unfavourable economics for most recycling, leading to a stark discrepancy between how much plastic is produced and how much is recycled.
The new legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution will need to consider measures across the full lifecycle of plastics. So called ‘midstream’ measures, for example on product design, will be essential to complement absolute reductions in plastic production.
Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) – also known as ‘ghost gear’ – is a major contributor to marine plastic pollution.
A global reporting and monitoring framework is sine qua non for the incoming global plastics treaty.
A global treaty (i.e. convention) on plastics will require financial resources to achieve its objectives, and many models exist in other multilateral environmental agreements from which lessons can be taken.