plastic treaty
The opening press conference for the INC-3 meeting held in Nairobi, Kenya, in Nov. 2023. (Credit: UNEP)

Everything you need to know for the fourth round of global plastic pollution treaty talks

Countries will meet this month in Ottawa to move forward on the historic treaty — but obstacles remain.

The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international, legally binding plastic pollution treaty will take place from April 23 to April 29 in Ottawa, Canada.

In the first three sessions of treaty talks, negotiators from about 175 countries — along with industry representatives, environmentalists and others — met to advance a treaty to address global plastic pollution.

What’s at stake in the plastic treaty talks? 

The plastic crisis is threatening both the planet and human and wildlife health.

  • Global plastic waste is set to almost triple by 2060.
  • The world generates roughly 400 million tons of plastic waste each year.
  • Less than 10% of plastic ever made has been recycled.

The treaty is the first international attempt to address this.

What’s the state of the plastic treaty? 

Consensus was elusive at the last round of talks in Kenya.

There is a High Ambition Coalition of countries that wants an end to plastic pollution by 2040. There is also a Global Coalition for Plastics Sustainability — largely nations economically reliant on fossil fuels such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China and Bahrain — that has positioned itself as the counterbalance to the High Ambition Coalition and is pushing for a larger focus on addressing plastic waste (via chemical and mechanical recycling and other means) rather than plastic bans or production limits. The U.S. is not part of either.

Some sticking points include:

  • Regulating the chemicals in plastic production
  • Plastic production caps
  • The role of chemical recycling and bioplastics

Where can I learn more about the plastic treaty?

You can see all of the details of the upcoming treaty meeting at the UN Environment Programme website.

Want to learn more broadly about the treaty and how plastic pollution impacts our health? Our newsroom has been hard at work on exploring these issues. Below we have articles to help you understand the treaty process and progress, plastic impacts to our health and chemical recycling and bioplastics.

And follow our newsroom on X, Instagram or Facebook to stay up-to-date on this historic treaty.

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