Businesses send powerful signal to UN on need for legally binding plastic pollution treaty

Gland, Switzerland

  • Leading companies and financial institutions call for countries to begin negotiations on a comprehensive, legally binding treaty on plastic pollution.
  • This is the first time industry leaders have advocated for such a robust policy, and timing is critical just months before UN member states participate in the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) 5.2 where they have the opportunity to negotiate a treaty.

Today more than 70 leading businesses and financial institutions have called for a legally binding treaty on plastic pollution in a pre-UNEA statement, which will be available at as well.

This is the first time industry leaders have advocated for such a robust policy on plastic pollution. The new statement includes explicit recognition of the need to reduce virgin plastic production and use, and comes just months before UNEA 5.2 where member states will have a crucial opportunity to negotiate a treaty.

Today’s statement is an indictment on the severity of our current plastic crisis, which merits immediate and concerted global efforts that tackle the problem at its root and throughout its lifecycle, in line with the vision for a circular economy for plastics. Pressure has been mounting on the international community for a legally binding treaty: More than 2 million people around the world have signed a WWF petition, and more than ¾ of UN member states have also backed those calls.

The companies’ statement is strongly aligned with a resolution to establish a negotiation mandate for a new treaty that has been tabled for the upcoming UNEA by a group of 42 countries, led by Rwanda and Peru. However, there are concerns that other states may support a less ambitious mandate. Discussions around the scope and ambition of the proposed treaty are currently ongoing and will be critical to determining whether the treaty will be able to deliver on the goal of eliminating plastic pollution.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation CEO Andrew Morlet said: "Plastic pollution doesn't stop at borders, it is a global problem that requires businesses and governments to work together on global solutions. Today marks the first time so many leading businesses have come together and called for a legally-binding, robust treaty; one that sets common rules and regulations, establishes a level playing field and creates the conditions needed to deliver coordinated global solutions. This statement sends a powerful signal to policymakers that they now have an unprecedented opportunity to turn the tide on plastic pollution."

WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini said: “We need a transformation in ambition and action in how we make, use and reuse plastic. It is no longer a question of whether we need a treaty on plastic pollution, it’s more about what this treaty must look like in order to tackle today’s still rampant plastic pollution crisis. These companies are asking governments to agree on a legally-binding set of global regulations and standards, including explicit recognition of the need to reduce virgin plastic production and use. Let us now seize the momentum that we are seeing across business, governments and civil society to deliver a strong and ambitious treaty at UNEA.”


Wisecap March 2024
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