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Monday, November 20, 2023

Global Plastics Treaty INC3 in Nairobi starts from a Zero Draft, ends with Petro States blocking and delaying progress

The United Nations  Intergovernmental Negotiationg Committee for a Global Plastics Treaty is meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 13-19 November 2023. Global Plastics pollution is an escalating Crisis that interlinks with the Biodiversity Crisis and Climate Crisis. The process for a Global Plastics Treaty was started in March 2022 at the resumed fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2).

A Zero Draft of the treaty has been prepared with elements of both common rules for all parties, and a nationally driven policy framework, and many procedural issues still to sort out.

UNEP third session INC3 website } CIEL preparatory work | Break Free From Plastic | IPEN

Australia is a member of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastics Pollution

19 November - Day 7 

INC3 concludes with no intersessional work approved, petro states blocking consensus, negotiating in what some call in bad faith. New revised zero draft authorised to be prepared by the Secretariat by 31 December 2023 for INC4 in Ottawa in April 2024

Plenary suspended and delegates
continued deliberations in informal groups.

Photo: by IISD/ENB | Anastasia Rodopoulou
Read IISD/ENB report on Sunday negotiations

Magnus Løvold (@magnuslovold) from Norwegian Academy of International Law, tweeted:

The third round of the #PlasticsTreaty #INC3 negotiations just concluded in Nairobi with no plan for how to move the process forward. This is a deeply disappointing, but not unexpected, outcome. For too long, ambitious countries have failed to face up to the reality that a meaningful treaty on plastic pollution cannot be achieved as long as the least ambitious countries are allowed to control the pace of the process.

The Nairobi round will go down in history as an unqualified failure of multilateral environmental diplomacy. It did nothing but record in elaborate detail the magnitude of the committee’s disunity. The week’s proceedings have swept away all doubt that some of the countries involved in this process — notably Iran   Saudi Arabia  and Russia — are negotiating in bad faith. It is impossible to develop a treaty on plastic pollution under such circumstances.

As they prepare for the next negotiation round in Ottawa, @HACplastic  and other ambitious countries must muster the courage to move ahead, even if those least willing to join stay behind. 

We cannot afford to let a small minority of countries continue to hold this process hostage. It is time to overrule their spoiler tactics, and take future substantive decisions to a vote #ConsensusKillsDemocracy

Centre for International Environmental Law: Ambition Meets Inertia in Third Session of Global Plastic Treaty Talks. Argues that Absent a Major Course Correction, Ottawa will host a “Polite but Massive Failure.”

“This week made clear that an overwhelming majority of countries demand an ambitious treaty that covers the full lifecycle of plastics,” said CIEL President Carroll Muffett. “That treaty is still achievable in these talks, but only if negotiators acknowledge and confront the coordinated campaign by fossil fuel and petrochemical exporters to prevent real progress of any kind.”

Alongside exporting countries themselves, INC-3 saw a massive presence in the industries that make plastics and plastic feedstocks. A CIEL analysis revealed that 143 fossil fuel and chemical industry lobbyists registered for the negotiations – including on country delegations.

“The results this week are no accident,” said David Azoulay, Program Director for Environmental Health at CIEL. “Progress on plastics will be impossible if Member States do not confront and address the fundamental reality of industry influence in this process.” 

There was also criticism of the High Ambition Coalition in the CIEL statement. Australia is a member of the High Ambition Coalition.

a troubling number of wealthier countries, including members of the 60+ member “High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution,” suggested a willingness to prioritize short-term consensus over long-term success.

“‘High Ambition’ is not a brand — it’s a commitment,” Azoulay said. “High Ambition countries in the Global North must follow the lead of Rwanda, Uruguay, and Pacific Island states in fighting to ensure ambition is reflected not just in empty political commitments but in the final treaty text.”

Break Free From Plastic (@brkfreeplastic) tweeted:

The #INC3 missed a vital chance for ambitious action on plastic reduction. A few loud voices held sway, blocking advances in setting targets, baselines & schedules.

We need a strong #ConflictofInterest policy to overcome deliberate obstruction.

In a statement they called for a strong conflict of interest policy and reassess how to deal with the countries deliberately blocking the ambition of the negotiation process. 

Despite a mandate for a revised draft, Member States failed to reach an agreement on priorities for intersessional work ahead of INC-4, despite an 11th-hour attempt, jeopardizing significant advancements for the treaty process. 

With the petrochemical influence in the treaty negotiations, including the ‘low ambition’ of a group of ‘like-minded’ plastic-producing countries, and the lack of ambition by the so-called ‘high ambition’ countries, the INC-3 concluded without concrete headway towards the mandate adopted at the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) to negotiate a comprehensive and legally binding treaty that will cover measures along the entire life cycle of plastic.

Greenpeace Canada responded: UN INC3 ends in frustration as governments allow low ambition countries to derail Global Plastics Treaty

“This round of Global Plastics Treaty talks proves once again the toxic influence the petrochemical industry has on global governments and our future. Between now and the next round of negotiations, high ambition countries have their work cut out for them to counter the damage done by the problematic low ambition countries. Unless the Treaty dramatically reduces plastic production, we cannot make gains on the worsening climate, pollution and biodiversity crises and their associated harms to people worldwide.

“The Global Plastics Treaty must reduce plastic production by at least 75% by 2040 to stay within the 1.5 degree threshold."

GAIA statement - Plastics Treaty Negotiations held Hostage by small handful of Oil Producing Countries -  excerpt:

At the start of INC-3 the Zero Draft was a balanced document representing a range of views to provide Member States a basis for negotiating; by Sunday afternoon the draft more than tripled in size. A minority of Member States–particularly oil-producing nations in the newly formed informal “group of like-minded countries” including Iran, the Russian Federation, and Saudi Arabia– undermined the previously agreed upon mandate for a plastics treaty, seeking to include low-ambition language and trying to run out the clock. 

Such interventions include inserting language on “national priorities,” “national circumstances,” and a “bottom-up approach,” which could lead to voluntary measures overpowering legally-binding measures – a thus far failed approach to international environmental policy, as evidenced by the Paris Climate Agreement. 

The same Member States, and some others, worked hard to undermine the mandate for a treaty covering the “full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design, and disposal” (Res. 5/14), to focus solely on waste management approaches, claiming that the problem is not plastic itself, but its disposal. 

“There is no difference between plastic and plastic pollution– plastic is pollution,” says Rafael Eudes, Aliança Reziduo Cero, Brazil. Plastic pollutes from the moment fossil fuels are extracted from the earth, to when the waste is thrown away.”

18 November - Day 6

The IISD/ENB informal summary of Saturday's negotiation report:

In the Breezeways

“Where has the time gone?” seemed to be the question on many delegates lips on the penultimate day of INC-3. Convoluted options, confusing alternatives, and look-alike text were the order of the day as delegates rushed to get the text in good enough shape for what lies ahead. Many felt that this has been a worthy exercise, with several sharing that “it has given us a clearer understanding of where countries stand.”

Others pointed to “a heightened trust in the process and the people,” pointing to the fact that so many proposals had been incorporated in the sections of the revised Zero Draft. In some rooms, the mood was completely different, as delegations fought to get their submissions included in the revised text. “Is it too soon to say the ghost of Paris is haunting us?” whispered one participant, reminded of the endless hours of circular debate held at INC-2.

Looking ahead, the INC has its work cut out for it. Delegates will need to deal with pragmatic as well as substantive issues during the intersessional. “Before we can negotiate anything, this text will need to be at least readable,” one knowledgeable participant opined. If all goes well, on Sunday, the when, where and how this work will be conducted is expected to be decided, as rumors circulate that some of it can be done in the margins of UNEA-6 in February. “Six months is not a long time,” sighed one participant, reflecting on the gargantuan task ahead of INC-4, which is scheduled for late April 2024. Among some, aspirations still remained high. “We are starting to discern the shape of the treaty,” one perceptive delegate opined, settling in for what might be a late night.

Magnus Løvold, from the Norwegian Academy of International Law, provides perceptive comment in the Point Of Order Blog on Medium: As the third round of the plastic treaty negotiations wraps up in Nairobi, one thing is clear: Someone must go:

As the session edges towards its conclusion, the question is not whether Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia will dig into their dilatory toolbox to prevent the committee from adopting an outcome that could take us closer to the adoption of an effective treaty. They will.

The big question is whether the ambitious countries will face up to the fact that these countries are negotiating in bad faith — and act accordingly.

Ending plastic pollution does not require the prior consent of all states. But it does require ambitious countries to prioritize their efforts and muster the courage to move ahead, even if those least willing to join stay behind. A treaty on plastic pollution can — and will — be effective, even if the largest oil producers refuse, initially, to join.

More on the oil producing countries trying to destabilize the negotiations by Magnus Løvold: Iran and other oil producing countries reject plastics treaty draft, threatening negotiations

The article outlines how Iran lead an opaque  “likeminded group” which on the first Saturday meeting, Iran had claimed to be speaking on behalf of a new “coalition for plastic sustainability”, which included China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Cuba, and "a number of other countries”. They called for a “bottom up” approach to the plastics treaty, and claimed that “plastic polymers are not pollutants”. By Monday China had chosen not to endorse the call.

Scientists' Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty posted this on Styrene monomers and the health risk they pose. They also highlighted the importance of intersessional work that needs to be done before the next INC meeting in April 2024. 

"To make sufficient progress with many options currently on the table, the Scientists' Coalition urges delegates to ensure that any intersessional work includes:

✅ broad regional and disciplinary representation

✅ experts from local communities and indigenous knowledge holders

✅ a robust conflict of interest policy and for independent experts to be involved

✅ developing scientific assessment criteria for chemicals and polymers of concern following a hazard-based approach and potential modalities to address production reduction

GAIA released an open letter to High Ambition Coalition on Plastics (60 odd countries, including Australia)  urging them to live up to their namesake and advocate for a strong PlasticsTreaty! (GAIA)

Video Progress report 18 November: Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Break Free From Plastics (BFFP) Africa Plastics Campaigner Merrisa Naidoo talks us through key updates for Day 6!

17 November - Day 5 

New Report on Plastics credits, offsets. Smoke and Mirrors: The Realities of Plastic Credits and Offsetting. "As the world’s governments come together to negotiate a new international treaty to tackle plastic pollution across its lifecycle, it is vital that the reality of plastic offsetting is understood. A concept shrouded in smoke and mirrors should not be incentivised in a treaty designed to reduce plastic pollution." (Break Free from Plastics)

The IISD/ENB informal summary of Friday's negotiation report:

In the Breezeways

The topsy-turvy weather in Nairobi matched the mood at INC-3 on Friday. Just as some delegates thought the concise Zero Draft text circulated prior to the meeting was progressive, many felt that “at this stage in the process, more is better.” Delegates had spent the first half of the meeting sharing their priorities for expanding the text, and with over 500 submissions forwarded to contact groups, Co-Facilitators worked in conjunction with the Secretariat to “balance” the Zero Draft. On Thursday, bits and pieces of the revised text were circulated and opened for discussion. In some cases, the text had ballooned from three paragraphs to 10 pages. Commenting on the additions, one participant was happy with the balance, sharing that “in this text, we see our views reflected. We can work with this.” Others were concerned that “there is so much repetition,” and “the options are identical, in my view,” wondering whether, in the end, “we will just revert to the text proposed in the first place.” With several delegations requesting more time to consider the text, substantive discussions were, for the most part, deferred.

Early in the day, one delegate shared that the text “is so big, we don’t even know where to start.” This was echoed in the contact groups where discussions about just how to address the text took center stage. At this point, it is clear that a herculean effort will be needed during the intersessional period to ensure the text is in good shape for INC-4.

16 November - Day 4 - The IISD/ENB informal summary of Thursday's negotiation report:

In the Breezeways

“When does plastic become waste?” Delegates have delicately skirted this question throughout the INC process. If one considers emissions from the production of plastic, or the leakage of nurdles during transport before polymerization, then in principle all plastic could be seen as waste. This interpretation is very different from anyone who views plastic waste as something discarded, having come to the end of its utility. On the other hand, “circularity” suggests that waste generation can be addressed by recovery, reuse, and recycling, opening a path to “closing the loop” on the production of virgin plastics. Rallying against this, a growing number of civil society actors have intimated that the concept of circularity has been “co-opted by the plastics industry,” and that the related notion of a “plastics lifecycle” is misleading. “It gives the impression that plastics can be recycled endlessly,” shared one, but this is far from the case. “What we need now is to address the plastics lifespan.”

These perspectives also have a bearing on discussions around extended producer responsibility, with some asserting that business has an inherent motivation to evade responsibility on plastics management, given the prospect of additional costs.

And these views feed into the broader discussions on international trade, where participants are also cognizant of special interests along the plastics value chain, which, one recalled, “perpetuate global inequality.” In their discussions on Thursday, many invoked global trade rules to circumscribe the range of actions that can be taken to address the entire lifecycle of plastics. With two days to go, one participant was hopeful that delegates will use the new round of negotiations to craft something new, noting that, “some market flexibility will be required if we are going to solve the scourge of plastic pollution.”

15 November - Day 3 - 

CIEL: Fossil Fuel Lobbying "More than 140 fossil fuel and chemical industry lobbyists have been admitted to participate in the INC3 Plastics Treaty talks meeting this week in Nairobi. That’s more participants than 70 countries combined." The count of 143 fossil fuel and chemical company lobbyists at INC-3 is greater than 38 Scientists’ Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty participants. 

It comes after civil society organizations and scientists have petitioned UNEP and the INC Secretariat to safeguard the negotiating process from industry influence and to implement strong Conflict of Interest policies. 

“Time and time again, we have seen how industry influence has blocked substantive progress in environmental treaty negotiations, including in spaces like the climate COP,” says Delphine Levi Alvares, Global Petrochemicals Lead at CIEL “At INC-2, the Secretariat stated that there were ‘not a lot of fossil fuel companies in the venue.’ Our analysis shows that is simply not true — their presence is only increasing. We must course-correct immediately to ensure that the plastics treaty is grounded in science and does not become a fossil-fueled treaty.”(CIEL: Fossil Fuel and Chemical Industries Registered More Lobbyists at Plastics Treaty Talks than 70 Countries Combined)

The IISD/ENB informal summary of Wednesday's negotiation report:

In the Breezeways

On Wednesday, in candid discussions, delegates shared both preferences for, and aversions to, certain elements that could form part of the future treaty on plastic pollution. In some instances, familiar stumbling blocks arose, pitting developing countries against developed countries. One such obstacle involved the provision of technology to developing countries. It is still unclear whether this transfer should be on mutually agreed terms—which, to some, is a reference to commercial terms—or whether it should be on preferential terms. The latter is sometimes seen as a threat to private sector interests, who more often than not develop, and thus possess proprietary rights over, these technologies. In the case of plastic pollution, such technologies extend from those used for remediation to mechanical sorting or recycling. If we are to move at the same pace in order to save the world from drowning in plastic waste, technology transfer will remain a core component. But how will the future instrument ensure that it is shared equitably and transparently, and in a manner that does not impose upon, but rather is attentive to, developing-country needs and preferences? As one delegate asserted, “no technofixes!”

More broadly, many delegates expressed relief and satisfaction that the working modalities agreed on Tuesday were moving the process forward, with one sharing that things are progressing perhaps “a little better than expected.” Another opined that “this may be the beginning of a new form of treaty making,” which, if successful, might be applied when negotiating future agreements.

14 November - Day 2 - INC Chair Gustavo Meza-Cuadra proposes three contact groups, with the first two addressing Zero Draft elements, and the third addressing the Synthesis Report containing elements not discussed at previous meetings. (ENB on X)

Contact Group 1: This group, co-facilitated by Gwendalyn Kingtaro Sisior (Palau) and Axel Borchmann (Germany), opened consultations in the evening to discuss the proposed options for the objectives of the ILBI. Most delegations supported the options presented in the Zero Draft, with some preferring the option to “end plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, and to protect human health and the environment,” while others choosing a more concise objective to “protect human health and the environment from plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.”

Contact Group 2: This group, co-facilitated by Katherine Lynch (Australia) and Oliver Boachie (Ghana), met in the afternoon to consider the provision on finance, which contains, among others, options for the ILBI’s financial mechanism, namely a newly established dedicated Fund (stand-alone fund), and a dedicated Fund within an existing financial arrangement. Some delegates expressed support for a stand-alone Fund as a matter of necessity. One group of countries indicated their support for a dedicated fund supported by public finance. Others supported both options, calling for a hybrid approach using both an existing and new financial mechanism. Some others preferred the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as the financial mechanism.

Contact Group 3: This group, co-facilitated by Marine Collignon (France) and Danny Rahdiansyah (Indonesia), met in the afternoon to address the preamble, definitions, principles, and scope.

The IISD/ENB informal summary of Tuesday's negotiation report:

In the Breezeways

Quelling rumors about uncertainties on the working modalities proposed by the INC Chair, the Nairobi Spirit prevailed on Tuesday as delegates agreed to establish contact groups. Armed with clear mandates, delegates spent the afternoon and evening working their way through the Zero Draft and the Synthesis Report. The flexibility of delegates was on full display as they showed a willingness to “learn from past mistakes” made in other processes, even accepting innovative proposals for the working modalities which, some hoped, “will be used for the rest of the meeting.”

The contact group setting allowed for honest and practical exchanges. In one room, a seemingly noble proposal to raise funds by imposing a global plastic pollution fee came under scrutiny. Unconvinced delegates expounded on the multiple ways in which the application of this fee could place an undue burden on developing countries. “I guess it is not always so straightforward,” acknowledged one observer.

Reflecting on the bigger picture, some were relieved that the INC has “finally shifted gear into work mode,” with one hoping that we can start to see a “shift in economic structures built around the convenience of plastic use.”

See also report on Day 2 by Sam Winton from the University of Surrey 

13 November - Day 1 - Fossil Fuel Lobby raises head as ‘Global Coalition for Plastics Sustainability’ led by Iran and Saudi Arabia. #BreakFreeFromPlastic responds to the formation of a group of ‘like-minded’ plastic-producing countries led by Iran and Saudi Arabia that could counter ambition in the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations (Break Free From Plastic)

Inger Andersen, opening remarks at INC3: Plastics Treaty needs to be based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastic (Climate Citizen)

The IISD/ENB informal summary of Monday's negotiation report:

In the Breezeways

Returning to Nairobi 18 months after UNEA took the historic decision to end plastic pollution, delegates welcomed the opportunity to engage in textual negotiations towards a new treaty. The pressure to deliver was palpable. UNEP Executive Director reminded delegates of the mandate to address the full lifecycle of plastic, from production to legacy waste, while Kenya’s president declared that the clock was loudly ticking towards 2024, when the INC will need to finalize a treaty that will “change humanity’s relationship with the planet.”

With the draft before them, some were optimistic that the Committee would be able to meet the ambitious target of hammering out a new treaty by the end of 2024. “Let’s leave all distractions behind now,” shared one seasoned observer, “and keep our eyes on the prize.” Others, however, were more cautious. “We do indeed have a Zero Draft, but we can’t proceed effectively until we see at least some of our views reflected in it,” shared one delegate, “the draft is just not as balanced as we hoped it would be.”

In this regard, the committee was unable to follow up on the planned establishment of contact groups on Monday, despite several calls to “use our time wisely.” In the breezeways, some whispered that the delay was due to a lack of clarity on how to deal with submissions not included in the Zero Draft. “Hopefully, this will be resolved swiftly, and we can all get down to it,” hoped one delegate.

See also Sam Winton report on Day 1 from University of Surrey

11 November - Delegates get down to business. 
The IISD/ENB informal summary of Saturday's negotiations report:

In the Breezeways

Australia takes the floor at INC3

Anyone walking into UNEP headquarters on Saturday morning expecting an easy day was in for a surprise. Delegates got right down to business, sharing their views on some of the heavier parts of the future treaty on plastic pollution. As in many treaty negotiations, including in the recently concluded talks on a High Seas Treaty, the scope of the future instrument as well as the principles and approaches that will govern the instrument were a weighty consideration. Some felt that the scope should be defined before discussing substantive issues, noting that “the ILBI’s function will define its form.” Others were convinced that UNEA resolution 5/14, which established the INC process, clearly defined the scope, including that the instrument will encompass the full lifecycle of plastic. But even among those who agreed, finer definitions concerning the start of the plastic lifecycle were still blurry. As this is the first time delegations are addressing these issues, which are not contained in the Zero Draft yet, the direction of this key discussion remains to be seen.

For the first time, a “global coalition for plastic sustainability” took the stage, leaving many scratching their heads about the precise meaning of plastic sustainability. While this group advocated for strong principles governing plastic pollution, some noted that their position is at odds with those who are seeking tougher upstream controls. Reflecting on these discussions at the end of the day, many acknowledged that “we will certainly have our work cut out for us,” when INC-3 formally commences on Monday.

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) NGO opening statement:


11 November - Hundreds of People Walk the Streets of Nairobi Calling for “Drastic Cuts on Plastic Production to Stop Plastic Pollution” (Break Free From Plastic)

10 November - Procedural disputes and the core issue of common global rules or nationally driven framework. Magnus Løvold and Torbjørn Graff Hugo provide a detailed analysis of the Procedural disputes that have plagued the progress og the Global Plastics Treaty: A tale of two treaties — On the procedural woes of the plastics treaty negotiations and why they matter

"Since the beginning of the negotiation process, countries have promoted two different models for the plastics treaty: While a large group of countries, including the members of the High Ambition Coalition, have expressed support for a standard multilateral environmental agreement with common and universally applicable rules, a sizeable minority, including the United States and Saudi Arabia, have instead favoured the development of a loose, multilateral framework for countries to communicate their national-level policies, akin to the Paris Agreement on climate change."

"the zero draft defers the decision that will have to be made at one point in this process: what kind of treaty are the countries involved in these negotiations going to adopt? A treaty with common rules for all parties, or a nationally driven policy framework? As this decision cannot be postponed forever, the relative non-committal character of the zero draft begs the question of when and, indeed, how, this decision will be made."

10 November - International Science Council - Policy Brief: Creating a Strong Interface between Science, Policy and Society to Tackle Global Plastic Pollution (International Science Council)

10 November - OECD Interim findings: Towards Eliminating Plastic Pollution by 2040: A Policy Scenario Analysis (OECD work on Plastics | Report PDF))

9 November - Kenya is lobbying to host the Plastics Treaty Secretariat to complement hosting  UNEP headquaters (The Star)

9 November - CIEL Preparatory Work, annotated zero draft. The Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has done preparatory work including:

  •  an annotated zero draft appraisal (PDF)
  • Brief on National Implementation Plans and National Actions Plans: Key Elements to Consider in the Context of a Treaty to End Plastic Pollution
  • Brief on Tackling Subsidies for Plastic Production: Key Considerations for the Plastics Treaty Negotiations
  • Brief on Implementation, Compliance, and Reporting: Key Elements to Consider in the Context of a Treaty to End Plastic Pollution
  • Report on Reducing Plastic Production to Achieve Climate Goals: Key Considerations for the Plastics Treaty Negotiations

8 November - Africa: Plastic waste ‘spiralling out of control’. Predicted 116m tonnes of waste annually by 2060 is six times higher than in 2019, driven by demand in sub-Saharan Africa (Guardian)

3 November - High Ambition Coalition issues Ministerial Joint Statement for INC3.

Australia is a member of the 60 odd countries in the High Ambition Coalition which made this statement:.

In advance of the third meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (hereafter the treaty), we the 60 Ministers of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution:

Reaffirm our shared commitment to end plastic pollution by 2040 and our call for the establishment of an ambitious and effective treaty to protect human health and the environment from plastic pollution based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastics.

Express our deep concern about projections of a continued and significant scaling up of plastic production, a near doubling of mismanaged plastics, and a more than 60 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 from the plastic system in the absence of new and effective global measures.[1]

Highlight new research that found 15 global policy interventions across the plastics lifecycle could reduce annual mismanaged plastics by 90 percent and reduce primary plastic production by 30 percent by 2040, while recognising that additional measures are needed to fully end plastic pollution. This outlines the potential for common legally binding obligations and control measures for countries in the INC to consider.[2]

Welcome the recently adopted resolution by the 76th World Health Assembly on the impacts of chemicals, waste and pollution on human health, which seeks to support the World Health Organization to scale up its work on plastics and health to advance information of the potential human health impacts associated with plastic.[3]

Underscore that INC-3 in Nairobi represents the halfway point for negotiations of the treaty and emphasise the importance of the INC completing its work by the end of 2024.

Reiterate our call for binding provisions in the treaty to restrain and reduce the consumption and production of primary plastic polymers to sustainable levels; eliminate and restrict unnecessary, avoidable, or problematic plastics, as well as the plastic polymers, chemical constituents and plastic products that are of particular concern due to their adverse effects on the environment and human health; increase the safe circularity of plastics in the economy, guided by the waste hierarchy; manage plastic waste in an environmentally sound and safe manner, and eliminate the release of plastics, including microplastics, to air, water and land.

Continue to call for binding provisions in the treaty to ensure reporting and transparency across the value chain of plastics as well as for the mobilization of the means of implementation from all sources that are necessary to deliver action on the ground to end plastic pollution.

Urge the private sector to scale up and speed up their investment for sustainability and safe circularity, noting that common global rules will provide opportunities for businesses committed to sustainability in all regions, and commit to the principle that polluters should be held responsible for their activities and products, recognizing that extended producer responsibility schemes can be part of the solution.

To enable timely and sufficient progress in the upcoming rounds of negotiations, we:

Encourage all INC Member States to immediately and constructively engage at INC-3 on the basis of the Zero Draft, with the goal of making substantial progress on the text.

Call for decisions at INC-3 to:

  • Request the Chair, with support of the Secretariat, to prepare a first draft of the treaty for consideration at INC-4, based on discussions at INC-3;
  • Launch technical work in the intersessional period to assemble the best available science, data and knowledge to inform the INC in its deliberations of the draft treaty text.

We reiterate our shared commitment to working with all INC Member States, to build trust and common understanding in order to deliver the ambitious, legally binding instrument needed to achieve our common goal of ending plastic pollution by 2040.

31 October - New Report Debunks Chemical Recycling’s False Promises. Chemical Recycling: A Dangerous Deception (IPEN)

5 September - Break Free from Plastic on Zero Draft. #BreakFreeFromPlastic Members Encouraged by the Zero Draft for a Global Plastics Treaty Call for Ambitious Negotiations (Break Free From Plastic)

Background Science:

Marina Olga Fernandez, Leonardo Trasande, The global plastics treaty: an endocrinologist’s assessment, (14 November 2023) Journal of the Endocrine Society, 2023;, bvad141,

Abstract: Plastics are everywhere. They are in many goods that we use every day. However, they are also a source of pollution.

In 2022, at the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), a historic resolution was adopted with the aim of convening an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, with the intention to focus on the entire life cycle of plastics.

Plastics, in essence, are composed by chemicals. According to a recent report from the secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, around 13000 chemicals are associated with plastics and plastic pollution. Many of these chemicals are Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and, according to reports by members of the Endocrine Society and others, exposure to some of these chemicals causes enormous costs due to the development of preventable diseases.

The global plastics treaty brings the opportunity for harmonized, international regulation of chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties present in plastic products.

Tony R. Walker, Lexi Fequet, Current trends of unsustainable plastic production and micro(nano)plastic pollution, TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, Volume 160, 2023, 116984, ISSN 0165-9936,

Abstract: Unsustainable plastic production, use and mismanagement has resulted in increased global plastic pollution and subsequent degradation into micro(nano)plastics in the environment threatening sustainability. Micro(nano)plastic pollution is pervasive and has caused widespread ecological impacts globally, including greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. Although downstream strategies to curb plastic pollution exist, they are ineffective in the face of current plastic production and waste generation which is still outpacing existing regulations. Thus, the international community has recognized a more holistic approach is required to reduce plastic and micro(nano)plastic pollution. This critical review highlights studies showing that unsustainable global plastic production has resulted in increasing micro(nano)plastic pollution in all environmental compartments, yet few studies have documented successful micro(nano)plastic pollution prevention or removal techniques. This critical review offers constructive criticism into some strategies to help advance ambitious global plastic and micro(nano)plastic pollution reduction targets for a transition towards a sustainable global plastics future.

Keywords: Plastic pollution; Microplastics; Nanoplastics; Micro(nano)plastics; Sustainability

Melanie Bergmann et al, Moving from symptom management to upstream plastics prevention: The fallacy of plastic cleanup technology, One Earth, Published:November 09, 2023 DOI: 

Abstract: Plastic removal technologies can temporarily mitigate plastic accumulation at local scales, but evidence-based criteria are needed in policies to ensure that they are feasible and that ecological benefits outweigh the costs. To reduce plastic pollution efficiently and economically, policy should prioritize regulating and reducing upstream production rather than downstream pollution cleanup.

Andreas Schäffer et al, Conflicts of Interest in the Assessment of Chemicals, Waste, and Pollution, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2023, (November 9, 2023),

Pollution by chemicals and waste impacts human and ecosystem health on regional, national, and global scales, resulting, together with climate change and biodiversity loss, in a triple planetary crisis. Consequently, in 2022, countries agreed to establish an intergovernmental science–policy panel (SPP) on chemicals, waste, and pollution prevention, complementary to the existing intergovernmental science–policy bodies on climate change and biodiversity. To ensure the SPP’s success, it is imperative to protect it from conflicts of interest (COI). Here, we (i) define and review the implications of COI, and its relevance for the management of chemicals, waste, and pollution; (ii) summarize established tactics to manufacture doubt in favor of vested interests, i.e., to counter scientific evidence and/or to promote misleading narratives favorable to financial interests; and (iii) illustrate these with selected examples. This analysis leads to a review of arguments for and against chemical industry representation in the SPP’s work. We further (iv) rebut an assertion voiced by some that the chemical industry should be directly involved in the panel’s work because it possesses data on chemicals essential for the panel’s activities. Finally, (v) we present steps that should be taken to prevent the detrimental impacts of COI in the work of the SPP. In particular, we propose to include an independent auditor’s role in the SPP to ensure that participation and processes follow clear COI rules. Among others, the auditor should evaluate the content of the assessments produced to ensure unbiased representation of information that underpins the SPP’s activities.

May 2023, Pacific Environment  “Stemming the Plastic-Climate Crisis: Paris Alignment for Plastics Requires at least 75% Reduction,” 

Chen, Xuejing, Kristen McDonald, Madeline Rose, Pacific Environment, 23 May 2023, “Stemming the Plastic-Climate Crisis: Paris Alignment for Plastics Requires at least 75% Reduction,”,

The Global Plastcs Treaty presents a historic opportunity to address the plastc crisis that is engulfng our planet and warming our climate. We need a Global Plastcs Treaty that commits to plastc reducton in line with a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature change scenario, frst and foremost through reducing plastc. And we need our natonal governments to beter regulate the petrochemicals and plastcs industries under climate commitments. Our report shows that two key pathways are needed to put the industry on a 1.5 degree Celsius compatble pathway:
  • Plastc must be reduced by at least 75% by 2050. This includes phasing out single-use plastc by 2040 and curbing durable plastc.
  • We must end plastc incineraton (and any plastc burning, including in cement kilns and chemical recycling) and require remaining plastc products be produced with greener feedstocks (such as green hydrogen) and 100% renewable energy.

See Plastics and the Climate Crisis (Climate Citizen) from INC2

Previous reports on INC negotiations:

INC1 - December 2022 - Australia and Negotiations for a Global Plastics Treaty and reduce plastic pollution in the marine environment

INC2 - May 2023 - Australia at Global Plastics Treaty negotiations in Paris #INC2

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