UN Plastics Reduction Treaty


Discussions have been begun on how to control plastics. Next meeting scheduled in December.

Prepatory reports for the meeting included (edited)–

The following specific measures, among others, should be considered in the context of the plastics treaty

  1. Trade restrictions and bans for certain types of plastic feedstocks, polymers, additives, and plastic
    products between Parties, and between Parties and non-Parties: It is expected that the plastic treaty
    will include restrictions on the production and use of certain plastic feedstocks, polymers, additives, or
    products. To support the efficacy of such measures, trade restrictions and bans on imports and exports of
    products subject to such phaseouts will be essential. To avoid the possibility to circumvent treaty
    obligations through imports or export with non-Parties, the same types of trade restrictions should be
    applied between Parties and non-Parties. This type of measure also offers a major incentive for
    non-signatory States to sign the agreement.

  2. Permit requirements: Import and export permits allows States to say no and retain control over what is
    imported, while export permits place some responsibility on the exporting State to ensure that (i) the
    shipment is correctly classified, (ii) meets any requirements, (iii) is in conformity with their supply and
    demand reduction commitments, and (iv) that the importing State is able to manage plastic feedstocks,
    polymers, additives, or the plastic product in an environmentally-sound manner. This would allow a
    certain level of control while still permitting trade in certain types of polymers, additives, and plastic
    products that are not restricted or banned.

  3. Declaration of imports and exports of plastic feedstocks, polymers, additives, and plastic products in
    addition to monitoring and reporting: All imports and exports of plastic feedstocks, polymers, plastics
    products, and additives covered by the plastics treaty should be reported at prescribed intervals, in
    accordance with the data reporting system established for that purpose, for instance by sending the data
    to the plastic treaty secretariat [or Parties]. As a minimum, Parties must declare the type of feedstock or
    plastics, the States of import, export, and transport, in addition to the amount. Reports should be made
    easily available by the secretariat. In addition to addressing the general lack of data on plastics and trade,
    this transparency measure would contribute to ensuring compliance with the treaty’s provisions and
    requirements, and allow other Parties, citizens, and civil society to participate in its enforcement while
    fulfilling the right of citizens to access environmental information, recognized in parts of the world.



Flying from Amsterdam to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) with a transit stop in Zanzibar, some passengers (including myself) discovered that Tanzania had banned plastic bags. Over the intercom, the instructions were to remove items from plastic bags, and leave the plastic bags on the KLM plane. Not sure what happens if the plastic bags are in one’s checked-in luggage.

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[UN Global Plastics Treaty due end of 2024 under discussion in Canada]


" The hoped-for treaty, due to be agreed at the end of this year, could be the most significant deal relating to climate-warming emissions and environmental protection since the 2015 Paris Agreement, which got 195 parties to agree to keep global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5C.

"Many plastic and petrochemical-producing countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran and China - known collectively as the group of Like-Minded Countries - have opposed mentioning production limits.

“restrain and reduce the production and consumption of primary plastic polymers to sustainable levels.” They also are proposing measures such as phasing out “problematic” single-use plastics and banning certain chemical additives that could carry health risks.

"companies want to focus on encouraging the reuse or recycling of plastics, including deploying technology that can turn plastic into fuel

Business Coalition for a Plastics Treaty "supports a treaty that includes production caps, use “restrictions and phase-outs, reuse policies, product design requirements, extended producer responsibility, and waste management.”


UN Plastics Treaty Conference in Ottawa ends Monday, Apr 29. Target is complete treaty by end of 2024. But so far no indication of agreement.

Downtoearth.org provides some details.


Two documents are under discussion. The first, prepared by Rwanda and Peru, emphasizes the need to reduce the production of primary plastic polymers. The second document, presented by Norway, proposes to identify and regulate chemicals of concern in plastics.

The document recognizes primary plastic polymer production as a key metric for evaluating interventions aimed at reducing plastic pollution and proposes a global reduction target to benchmark collective actions.

Proposed criteria for identifying chemicals of concern include categories such as carcinogenicity, specific organ toxicity, endocrine disruption, and persistence in the environment.

Two initial lists are suggested for inclusion in the ILBI: List 1 for chemicals to be banned or eliminated and List 2 for chemicals to be avoided and minimized.

Details continue to be negotiated. The industry prefers recycling but Reuters found recycling wholly inadequate. Over 90% of plastics produced end up in the trash or are incinerated. How does one make recycling practical?

Most plastic is designed to last forever. We continue to produce more. It comes as no surprise plastic is everywhere.

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The UN has issued its final report on the plastics problem from the Ottawa meeting with a goal of reaching a treaty on the subject by year end.


The UN has issued its final report on the plastics problem from the Ottawa meeting with a goal of reaching a treaty on the subject by year end.

The result seems to be more disarray. Some insist that plastic production should be limited. The industry has invested (and continues to invest) in large highly automated plants that produce plastics cheaply. They oppose limits on production and prefer recycling.

Recycling has been shown to be limited at best and unprofitable. Proposals to make plastic recycling practical are needed. Or we should agree to incinerate used plastics and recover energy.


Over the past month or so, I have been seeing TV ads saying plastic bottles (for what, where, when–doesn’t say) are being redesigned for (unlimited?) recycling, so far smaller need for new plastics (for bottles) in the future.

Right now, black plastic is being burned because there is so much of it–too much to be recycled. Colored plastic can be made black, but that is the end. Some clear plastics are reycled (no figures).

But the mob still needs to be convinced to recycle. Remember my coworkers who drove to Indiana to buy cans of beer without a deposit, so they could toss the cans out the car window when empty.


The Reuters paper found only 9% of plastics recycled. PET plastic used in pop bottles is easiest. It can be converted to fiberfill and maybe even textile fibers. Eastman Chemical is building plants to break it down and reuse. That allows more purification to get rid of dyes and additives.

Plastic milk bottles is worst. Can be made into railroad ties, deck planking, or telephone poles but not much value.

Large quantities get bundled and shipped to Asia for more sorting but much still ends up in trash.

We need more incentives for participation. Consumer product companies to use more recycled plastic. Taxes could be used. Higher taxes on difficult to recycle plastics to subsidize those that are easy to recycle.

It is made into outdoor lawn/patio furniture that can sit outside year-round (MN). No bugs. No rust. No painting required.

Sadly the market for recycled polyethylene is way to small. The industry proposes cracking to hydrocarbons suitable for refinery processing. But that makes it worth crude oil prices. Abt $0.20/lb. Not enough to pay for collection sorting bundling and shipping. Better to burn it as fuel. But environmental groups oppose use as fuel. Not recycling in their view. They prefer limiting production but that is global warming all over again. Industry with massive investment in plants will kill it if they can!!

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