A UN treaty based on legally-binding global rules and comprehensive circular economy measures is a unique opportunity to accelerate systems change and end plastic pollution.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is calling for a treaty that is based on:
Legally binding global rules.
These are crucial to stimulate the investment and innovation essential to driving global change.
Comprehensive circular economy measures, with a focus on upstream action.
To achieve meaningful progress, we must reduce our use of plastics, increase reuseThe repeated use of a product or component for its intended purpose without significant modification. models and fundamentally redesign our approach to plastic packaging across its whole lifecycle.
Prioritising plastic packaging.
A treaty should initially focus on the types of plastic most likely to end up in the environment - including packaging, which creates around 40% of total plastic waste.
Negotiations for a UN treaty to end plastic pollution
Formal negotiations for a UN treaty to end plastic pollution started in November 2022, with the first Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) meeting in Uruguay in December 2022. This was followed by a second round of negotiations in Paris, in May 2023 (also known as INC-2).
The third round (INC-3) is taking place in Nairobi, Kenya between the 13-19th November 2023.
Preparing for INC-3
Reflections on the “zero draft” treaty text published by the INC Chair
The “zero draft” treaty text represents a solid starting point for governments to advance on substantial negotiations in November. However, the level of ambition should be further strengthened in several areas of the instrument.
Ahead of the third round of negotiations, the Foundation provided input into the official process via pre-INC submissions:
Elements not discussed at INC-2
This submission outlines the Foundation’s proposed scope and, principles for a global plastics treaty.
Find out more: Pre-INC-3 Submission Part A
Potential areas for intersessional work
This submission outlines six priority policy areas the Foundation suggests to the INC to consider as a priority for intersessional work The six priority policy areas are:
Total volume reduction to limit or reduce total volume of virgin plastics put on the market.
Elimination criteria & lists for determining problematic and avoidable plastic products and packaging as well as polymers and chemicals of concern.
Reuse systems and delivery models.
Key principles and minimum requirements for establishing mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems.
Definitions, metrics and methodologies for robust national reporting.
Find out more: Pre-INC-3 Submission Part B
Preparing for INC-2
In preparation for the second round of negotiations in Paris, the INC Secretariat created a document outlining potential elements towards an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.
Stakeholders, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation had the opportunity to provide submissions for consideration of the Member States. You can find the details of our submissions below.
Initial considerations for global rules in the UN treaty to end plastic pollution
To support the development of an ambitious and effective UN treaty, this submission by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to the INC Secretariat aims to:
showcase the need for concrete objectives, global rules and obligations in the treaty
and provide initial options and considerations on the nature of these rules and obligations.
The Foundation also contributed to a joint submission with the Pew Charitable Trusts, Minderoo Foundation and CDP. This focused specifically on sections II and III of the response template prepared by the Secretariat, and provided feedback on the following questions:
How to ensure effectiveness of the instrument and have efficient national reporting,
and what are other relevant proposals or priorities
From single-use to reuse: A priority for the UN treaty
As part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s engagement to support the development of an ambitious and effective international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, this briefing highlights:
the need to prioritise reuse in the UN Plastics treaty,
initial considerations for policy measures to overcome current barriers to scaling reuse.
Business Coalition for a Global Plastics treaty
The Coalition's shared vision, endorsed by all members, sees the treaty as the key policy mechanism to accelerate progress in three critical areas:
the reduction of plastic production and use through a circular 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,
increased circulation of all necessary plastics,
and the prevention and remediation of hard-to-abate micro- and macro-plastic leakage into the environment.
Aligned with this vision, the Coalition has developed ambitious policy recommendations.
You can also read about read about the Coalition’s reflections on the INC-2 negotiations, and find out more about the Business Coalition and how it plans to achieve its vision for a circular economy for plastics.
2021 white paper
In August 2021 the Foundation published a white paper that set out its perspective on a UN treaty to address plastic pollution and support the transition to a circular economy for plastics. It looks back at some of the Foundation’s key learnings as well as important resources.
The white paper includes:
key messages for policymakers,
why the political reasoning for a treaty on plastics is well supported,
and how the shape of the treaty could usefully draw on existing efforts.
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