In a joint report, WWF, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Boston Consulting Group, set out the opportunity for a new global UN treaty on plastic pollution.
To accelerate progress towards a circular economy for plastic, the groups say there is an ‘urgent need’ to amplify current efforts through ‘coordinated and ambitious approaches’, such as the Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and Plastics Pact network.
It says a common structure would set a ‘clear direction’ and conditions, giving governments and businesses the impetus to move forward more decisively.
A global agreement setting out global goals and binding targets, together with national action plans and consistent measurement, is needed to harmonise policy efforts, enhance investment planning, stimulate innovation and coordinate infrastructure development, the report states.
Voluntary initiatives alone are not enough to solve plastic pollution and we believe governments and policymakers have a vital role to play
It says that while voluntary initiatives can deliver change among market leaders, an international binding approach is needed to deliver the necessary industry scale change.
Based on the report, entitled The Business Case for a UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution, major businesses have issued a call for a UN treaty on plastic pollution to address the fragmented landscape of regulation and complement existing voluntary measures.
Alongside almost 2 million people also calling for a treaty, more than two-thirds of the UN member states from across the world, have officially declared that they are open to considering the option of a new global agreement, including African, Baltic, Caribbean, Nordic and Pacific states, as well as the European Union.
A resolution to start negotiations on such a treaty is expected to be tabled at the upcoming 5th Session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA5) in February 2021.
This comes after the Assembly recognised plastic pollution as a global problem. Previously, a 2017 UNEA mandated examination concluded that the existing international legal framework governing plastic pollution is fragmented and ineffective.
A binding global agreement that builds on the vision of a circular economy for plastic can ensure a unified international response to plastic pollution that matches the scale of the problem
Both the report and business manifesto stress the urgent need to develop and adopt a new global treaty on plastic pollution as soon as possible.
“We have seen important steps taken by businesses and governments in addressing plastic pollution over recent years,” said Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder & Chair of Trustees Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “More than 500 organisations have signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, setting clear targets to achieve a circular economy for plastic in which it never becomes waste or pollution.
“But voluntary initiatives alone are not enough to solve plastic pollution and we believe governments and policymakers have a vital role to play.
“A binding global agreement that builds on the vision of a circular economy for plastic can ensure a unified international response to plastic pollution that matches the scale of the problem.”