Breaking the plastic curse: UN Plastics Treaty sets global path to combat pollution

From reduction targets to circular economy principles, the groundbreaking UN Plastics Treaty charts a course towards a plastic-free future.

Plastic pollution has become an urgent global problem, causing considerable environmental damage and posing a threat to human health. Recognizing the urgent need for action, the United Nations has taken a major step forward to meet this challenge. After some initial setbacks, negotiations on the UN Plastics Treaty concluded with a mandate for the first draft of a groundbreaking international agreement. This article examines the details of the agreement and its potential impact on the fight against plastic pollution.

These negotiations aim to establish a global framework for effectively combating plastic pollution. Despite initial difficulties, the talks have gained momentum, with delegates from different countries working together to draft an agreement. The aim of the treaty is to set binding commitments for member states, encouraging them to reduce plastic waste, promote recycling, and develop sustainable alternatives.

For more insights on the UN Plastics Treaty, listen to the audio entry in Rádio Slovensko, in which Jana Ružická, Sustainability Director at Mazars, discusses the topic: "The amount of plastic waste is growing and will almost triple by 2026. The UN is preparing a plan to reduce plastic waste by 80% by 2040, with three main goals: reuse, recycling and replacing plastics with alternatives."

Jana also adds what alternatives are under consideration: "Many expert teams are now exploring the use of natural materials, such as sponge fibre (mycelium), for transport and packaging of goods. The use of corn starch, straw, fruit peelings or olive stones is also being explored for the production of bioplastics to replace conventional plastic packaging made from petroleum."

Key elements of the treaty

The UN Plastic Treaty will include several key elements to tackle plastic pollution globally. These include:

  1. Reduction targets: The treaty will set specific reduction targets for single-use plastics and other categories of plastic waste. In implementing these targets, member states will be responsible for reducing their plastic footprint.
  2. Extended producer responsibility: The agreement will emphasize the principle of extended producer responsibility, obliging manufacturers to assume responsibility for the entire life cycle of their products, including the collection and proper disposal of plastic waste.
  3. Plastics recycling and circular economy: The treaty will encourage the development of a robust recycling infrastructure and the transition to a circular economy model, in which plastic waste is minimized, reused, and recycled.

Potential impact and challenges

The UN Plastics Treaty offers significant potential for tackling plastic pollution on a global scale. By fostering international collaboration, it aims to harmonize policies, share best practices, and encourage technology transfer. The treaty's success hinges on effective implementation and enforcement mechanisms, as well as the commitment of member states to actively work towards the goals set.

However, challenges lie ahead. Developing countries may face financial and capacity limits, requiring assistance and support from developed nations. In addition, the involvement of plastics industry players will be crucial in stimulating innovation and implementing sustainable practices throughout production and supply chains.

The role of individuals and civil society

While the UN Plastic Treaty represents an important step in the fight against plastic pollution, individual actions are just as important. Individuals can contribute by reducing their personal plastic consumption, advocating sustainable practices within their communities, and holding companies accountable for their impact on the environment. Civil society organizations and environmental advocates can continue to raise awareness and demand stricter measures to combat plastic pollution.

To conclude

Talks on the UN Plastic Treaty have ended with a mandate for the first draft of a global agreement to combat plastic pollution. This treaty could revolutionize the way the world deals with plastic waste by setting binding commitments and targets for member states. With its emphasis on reduction, recycling, circular economy principles, and extended producer responsibility, the treaty aims to create a sustainable, plastic-free future. However, the success of this treaty will depend on strong implementation, international cooperation, and the collective efforts of governments, industries, and individuals worldwide. Together, we can make a positive impact and solve the plastic pollution crisis.