Managing Director & Senior Partner
Plastic pollution has been around for only a few decades, but its impact on the ocean is reaching crisis proportions. An estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic flow into the ocean each year, and that volume is forecast to triple over the next 20 years.
To reverse this trajectory, many of the world’s leading consumer packaged goods and retail companies are calling on governments to negotiate a United Nations (UN) treaty on plastic pollution. This is not another coalition or multistakeholder initiative; rather, it’s an opportunity for businesses to have a voice in the key vote on a potential treaty at the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in February 2021.
Why a Treaty Is Urgently Needed
Corporate and government action to address plastic pollution is at an all-time high. The number of voluntary initiatives and national regulations aimed at tackling this issue has more than doubled in the past five years—but still the plastic pollution tide keeps rising. There are several reasons for this:
Given the urgency and scale of the challenge, as well as the need to amplify current efforts, a new and more ambitious approach is required.
Four Critical Elements of a UN Treaty
A UN treaty on plastic pollution, whereby governments commit to a coordinated set of actions and policies, can help put the world on a path toward a circular economy for plastics. Critical elements of the treaty should include:
The Business Imperative Is Clear
A UN treaty on plastic pollution would benefit businesses as well as the environment. It would:
Support the Call for a UN Treaty on Marine Plastic Pollution
Plastic pollution is the foremost international environmental problem in the world today for which there is no UN treaty. But the calls for such a treaty—by citizens to UN member states and now businesses—are growing louder. At the upcoming UNEA-5 meeting, member states will have the opportunity to commence negotiations on a treaty about plastic pollution.
To join those calling for a global agreement, please sign the business manifesto.
To find out more, review the report The Business Case for a UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution, developed in partnership by BCG, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the WWF.
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