On Monday, the second high-level round of negotiations on the way to achieving a global treaty against plastic pollution starts in Paris. Commissioner Sinkevičius will represent the Commission at the high-level meeting organised by the United Nations. With plastic production forecasted to triple by 2060, the EU will call for legally binding provisions to address the production of primary plastics, with a view to making production and consumption sustainable. More than 1,000 delegates from governments, NGOs, industry, and civil society will discuss with the aim to conclude by the end of 2024 a new legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:
An international plastics treaty is our chance to stop plastic pollution by introducing global rules throughout the entire plastics life cycle. In the EU, we keep strengthening our legislation to reduce plastic pollution – from new EU-wide rules to reduce packaging to measures on microplastics. We are determined to keep working for ambitious action across the world, as the fight against the pollution, climate and biodiversity crises must involve all of us.
The EU will also propose measures to eliminate and restrict plastic products that are avoidable, replaceable, produce waste or pose a significant risk to human health and the environment. Meanwhile, plastic products that are to remain in the economy should be designed in a more sustainable way, including through increased use of recycled plastics.
The EU is taking a leading role in combatting plastic pollution globally by supporting the setting up of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, with a commitment to aim high in the negotiations to end plastic pollution by 2040. Today, the coalition has released its Ministerial Statement, calling for several legally binding core obligations in the new treaty.
Plastics are important materials for our economy and daily lives. However, the exponential growth of production and consumption of plastics in recent decades is having serious negative effects on the environment and human health. Of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally so far, less than 10 per cent has been recycled. Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are lost to the environment, or sometimes shipped thousands of kilometres to destinations where it is mostly burned or dumped.
The adoption of a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution is a key priority of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan under the European Green Deal. The global community achieved a big milestone during the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022, when countries agreed to start negotiations for the new instrument. The EU and its Member States believe that the new instrument should include the necessary obligations enabling countries to step up actions to prevent plastics from entering the environment. A circular approach looking at the entire plastics life cycle will be key for the change needed.
The High Ambition Coalition, co-chaired by Norway and Rwanda, brings together like-minded countries, advocating ambitious goals for the new legally binding instrument to tackle the growing amount of plastic waste choking our planet.
- Publication date
- 26 May 2023
- Directorate-General for Environment