Press release

Effective global Plastics Treaty is possible, but ambitions must be raised

April 30, 2024

A week of negotiations between UN member states on a global Plastics Treaty ended today in Ottawa, Canada. World governments agreed on the mandate for the negotiations at the UN Environment Assembly in 2022. The aim is to adopt a globally binding treaty to tackle plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, by the end of 2024. The final round of negotiations will take place in Busan, Korea, in November.

Commenting on the outcome of the 4th session of the International Negotiating Committee (INC-4), Fabienne McLellan, Managing Director of OceanCare said:

“The amount of plastic entering the world’s oceans is increasing every year. In many places, this plastic is choking habitats and suffocating marine life. Humanity depends on healthy oceans, and we must be ambitious in protecting their health.

“OceanCare welcomes the progress made in Ottawa on a number of important issues such as problematic plastic products, chemicals of concern and a financing mechanism. We have seen a broad consensus that marine plastic pollution from plastic fishing gear needs to be addressed in a comprehensive way. We are also pleased that many governments have shown strong support for the environment in this round of negotiations, proposing ambitious targets to protect ecosystems. An effective treaty is still possible, but time is running out and ambitions need to be raised.

“However, we are extremely disappointed that primary plastic polymers – the most contentious issue in Ottawa – did not receive a mandate for intersessional work before the next formal round of negotiations in Korea. The science is clear: we must first address unsustainable levels of plastic production if we are to end plastic pollution. But too many compromises were made in favour of a handful of petrochemical-producing countries that lobbied to maintain the status quo. At the final round of negotiations in November, it will be crucial that governments that are serious about ending plastic pollution push for a provision in the treaty text to curb primary plastic production.

“The strong presence of the global plastic producing and consuming industries in these negotiations is highly problematic. Their lobbying has no other objective than to protect their own profit-driven interests. Especially now that the negotiations are moving towards technical work, their presence must be clearly regulated and limited”.