Beyond Plastic

Global plastics treaty negotiations take place in Uruguay

Plastic pollution is a global problem – and we all need to play our part.

Large pile of single-use plastic bottles
Huguette Roe |

Plastic pollution is a global problem – and we all need to play our part.

Last week, the United Nations hosted negotiations in Uruguay to help shape a global treaty to tackle the plastic waste crisis. These talks addressed the whole life cycle of plastic, which includes production, distribution, disposal, and the pollution that happens at every stage. This was the first of five expected meetings that will happen over the next two years.

The initial topics and focuses for the treaty are restrictions on toxic chemicals in plastics, creating a circular economy, and the waste hierarchy. While there has been some focus on recycling and waste management in the talks, a treaty that is designed to reduce production of plastics in the first place will have the most impact.

It remains to be determined whether the United Nations will take an approach that sets an international mandate for plastic waste reduction, or an approach that requires national commitments, similar to the Paris Agreement on climate change. What is clear is that the world needs a strong, enforceable treaty to reduce plastic waste, and in whatever form it takes this UN Treaty will be the first global commitment to ending the plastic crisis and a giant leap toward moving beyond plastic. 

Holly Thompson
Holly Thompson

Former Beyond Plastic, Associate, PIRG

Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

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