Technological watch

Packaging firms join call for global treaty to 'reduce virgin plastic production'

Ahead of the expected start of negotiations on a global plastics treaty, some large plastics packaging firms are joining a call from financial institutions and consumer product companies for a robust agreement that aims to cut virgin plastic production.

Packaging firms Berry Global Group Inc., Amcor Ltd., Alpla Inc. and Greiner AG signed on with a Jan. 17 statement from more than 70 businesses, including global brands like Coca-Cola Co. and Walmart Inc., urging negotiators at the upcoming U.N. Environment Assembly session to start serious talks.

The statement said the businesses want U.N. negotiators to pursue an "ambitious, international, legally binding" treaty that would set a "high common standard" for countries to pursue.

Specifically, the statement said an agreement should aim to "keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment, reduce virgin plastic production and use, and decouple plastic production from the consumption of fossil resources."

Talks had been expected to begin in February at the UNEA session in Kenya, where the U.N. Environment Program is headquartered, but there are indications the assembly could be delayed because of ongoing coronavirus concerns.

Company signatories also include resin maker Borealis AG, along with packaging maker Mondi plc, nearly 30 financial institutions and global brands including Unilever plc, Group Danone SA, PepsiCo Inc. and Nestlé SA.

"We are at a critical point in time to establish an ambitious U.N. treaty that fosters collaboration for systemic solutions and speeds up the transition to a circular economy globally," the companies said. "UNEA 5.2 is the decisive, most auspicious moment to turn the tide on the global plastic pollution crisis."

It's not clear what shape any agreement could take, with two competing plans emerging over how to structure any deal, which could be similar to a Paris climate treaty for plastics.

Publication date: 17/01/2022

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Last update: 2022-01-31