World must target ‘0% plastic waste’

The United Nations is being urged to make a bold commitment and set a target of zero new plastic pollution by 2040 in its upcoming global agreement to end plastic pollution. Plastic production and the resulting pollution are key drivers of climate change, which is at the heart of the debate at COP27 in Egypt this week.

In an article published in Nature examines the earth and the environment., Professor Steve Fletcher, director of the Global Plastics Policy Center at the University of Portsmouth, outlines his rationale for the ambitious target. The university team has advised the United Nations Environment Programme, the G20, and the World Bank on plastics policy, including the potential structure and content of a global agreement to combat plastic pollution.

Professor Steve Fletcher said: “Agreement targets must be ambitious and meaningful, we are calling on the UN to set a minimum target of 0% new plastic pollution by 2040. To achieve this, policy makers , businesses, researchers and wider society must go. Be radical in your thinking to move beyond current best available technology and practice and develop a coherent global strategy to tackle plastic pollution.

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The global agreement aims to eliminate plastic pollution, but there is no set target yet – something that remains to be negotiated during ongoing negotiations.

“The Global Plastics Treaty needs a target that is clearly defined,” Fletcher said.

“Currently, there is confusion about what ‘eliminating plastic pollution’ actually means. There needs to be a target and an agreed strategy for the agreement to work.

The paper explains that a tightly defined target as well as metrics for measuring progress need to be integrated and that international policies must be underpinned by coordinated action at the national level. Together, it is believed, these three components should lead to the systemic change necessary to eliminate plastic pollution.

Almost 200 countries are committed to the development of this agreement. With each country operating with different financial, social and political priorities and constraints, the University of Portsmouth team believes that governments must remain focused in their quest to end plastic pollution.

The article’s authors say it’s important that the goal is clear, measurable, and has a time frame that’s relevant. They also feel that it is unrealistic to expect countries to eliminate existing plastic pollution. Instead, they suggest the focus should be on preventing new plastic pollution from entering the environment.

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Fletcher and the team at the Global Plastic Police Center say current national plastic policies only address a fraction of plastic pollution. They believe that ambition is limited and that policies often extend the time before plastic becomes pollution, rather than tackling the root cause of the problem. They are calling for a globally integrated approach that manages the entire length of international plastics value chains and combats the environmental, economic and social impacts of misguided plastics policies.

Antaya March, lead author of the Global Plastics Policy Center at the University of Portsmouth, explains how to overcome these challenges: “Plastic is extremely useful, but mismanagement has created a global pollution crisis that is exacerbating climate change. A circular A complete transformation of the plastics economy is needed to reduce or eliminate plastic pollution altogether while supporting essential uses.

The research associate believes that local problems are often the result of international problems. March said: “Plastics value chains typically cross multiple jurisdictions with different laws, rules and regulations.

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“At best, country-specific policies, such as bans on specific plastic products, do not have the reach to meaningfully affect the global drivers of plastic pollution. At worst, they create international legal and policy inconsistencies. which push plastic waste into places with minimal capacity to safely deal with it. It is estimated that current commitments to tackle plastic pollution will reduce business-as-usual plastic entering the environment by 2040. will decrease by about 7% compared to 2015. So we need an ambitious target that all nations can work towards.

Dr Kieron Roberts, from the Global Plastics Policy Center at the University of Portsmouth, said: “It is a great achievement that the UN is continuing to develop a legally binding global agreement to end plastic pollution. Therefore, the Global Compact needs new levels of transparency, disclosure and collaboration to support evidence-based policy-making that avoids the fragmented and regressive policies of the past. fundamentally change the way we behave and interact with


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