Press release

UN member states urged to tackle plastics crisis at heart in new global treaty

April 30, 2024
  • The fourth of five rounds of negotiations on a global plastics treaty is drawing to a close in Ottawa, Canada.
  • Ahead of the closing session, a strong group of countries from all continents issued a declaration calling on negotiators to secure a treaty that addresses the entire life cycle of plastics and to prevent the overproduction of plastics.

Representatives from all UN member states have been meeting in Ottawa, Canada, since last week to continue negotiations on a globally binding treaty to tackle the plastic crisis. The biggest challenge remains to make progress on curbing the production of new plastics and thereby tackling the plastic problem at its source. Without an effective reduction in production, scientists warn that waste management systems and recycling infrastructure around the world could be overwhelmed in the coming decades.

Virgin plastic – known as primary plastic polymers – are the building blocks from which all plastics are made and are a major contributor to global warming, pollution, and associated health risks. A recent report found that an ambitious global plastics treaty addressing the production of primary plastic polymers could halve emissions from plastic production.

To make sure the treaty will address the entire lifecycle of plastics, a diverse group of countries from all continents launched a joint call titled “Bridge to Busan: Declaration on Primary Plastic Polymers”. The Declaration urges delegates to commit to sustainable levels of virgin plastic production.

Fabienne McLellan, Managing Director of OceanCare, said:

“The world does not have much time to act before we literally drown in plastic pollution. Global rules are needed to deal with plastic at every stage of its life cycle. Focusing only on plastic waste won’t get us out of this problem if we don’t get a grip on the ever-increasing amount of new plastic being produced.

“OceanCare welcomes this declaration as a beacon of hope and a focus on the real problem. We strongly believe that only a UN treaty regulating the entire life cycle of plastics has the potential to fulfil the original mandate of the United Nations Environment Assembly to end plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. We urge governments to resist pressure from industry lobbies and put the interests of the planet and its inhabitants first”.

Note to editors

  • List of UN Member States that signed the Declaration “Bridge to Busan: Declaration on Primary Plastic Polymers” at the time of sending: Australia, Austria, Cameroon, Chile, Cook Islands, Denmark, Fiji, France, Georgia, Guinea, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, The Netherlands, The Phillippines, Vanuatu
  • Endorsement by Civil society groups: Armenian Women for Health & Healthy Environment, CEJAD Kenya, OceanCare, Environmental Investigation Agency, Institute for Energy & Climate Strategies MarViva, Sciaena, The Pew Charitable Trusts, TESS (Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs)


Declaration: Bridge to Busan: Declaration on Primary Plastic Polymers

N. Karali, N. Khanna, N. Shah (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2024): Climate Impact of Primary Plastic Production

Environmental Investigation Agency (2024): Addressing the Issue Head-On: Measures on polymer production in the Global Plastics Treaty