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EU Advocates Global Ban on Certain Plastics to Combat Pollution


EU Advocates Global Ban on Certain Plastics to Combat Pollution

World leaders and negotiators gathered in Ottawa from April 21-29 for the fourth round of negotiations aimed at drafting a new UN Treaty to address global plastic pollution.

Plastic Litter on Shorelines

Photo by Larina Marina, Shutterstock

With the world far from achieving its goal of ending plastic pollution, the EU is pushing for stricter, coordinated policies that address pollution at its source. The EU calls for a comprehensive approach to plastics, involving bans on certain products and improved product design. This new treaty should impose legally binding obligations covering the entire lifecycle of plastics, from production to waste management and disposal, to prevent pollution in marine and other environments.

Over 4,000 participants, including representatives from governments, NGOs, industry, and civil society, convened in Canada to finalize negotiations on a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution by the end of 2024.

EU’s Stance on Plastic Pollution

Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, representing the Commission in Ottawa, stated:

"Plastics are vital to our economy and daily lives, but the severe negative impacts on the environment and human health from plastic pollution must be halted. The new global treaty must revolutionize how plastic products are designed, produced, used, and recycled. I urge everyone to unite in the fight against pollution, addressing both climate and biodiversity crises."

Addressing Pollution at the Design Phase

Design features and substances introduced during plastic production significantly impact pollution. The future treaty should include mandatory eliminations and restrictions on avoidable or problematic plastic products, particularly those prone to littering or posing risks to health and the environment. Products with intentionally added microplastics should also be banned.

Negotiators in Ottawa are working on a revised draft of the treaty, aiming for finalization in the last session of the year. The negotiating committee must reach an agreement to secure the treaty's successful completion, as mandated by the United Nations Environment Assembly.

EU’s Role and the High Ambition Coalition

The EU is actively involved in the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, which includes 65 countries committed to ambitious goals. On April 15, the coalition released a Ministerial Statement for the Ottawa meeting, advocating for several legally binding core obligations in the new treaty, including product-related measures.

Next Steps

The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) will continue until April 29. The final text of the Treaty on global plastics pollution is expected to be concluded in the fifth session of the INC in November-December this year. The EU will continue collaborating with allies and partners to swiftly conclude the negotiations.


Plastics are crucial for the economy and daily life. However, the rapid increase in plastic production and consumption in recent decades has severely impacted the environment and human health. According to UNEP data from 2021, global plastic production reaches approximately 400 million tonnes annually, with only 12% incinerated and 9% recycled. The rest ends up in landfills or the environment, including oceans. The OECD's 2022 Global Plastics Outlook projects that plastic leakage into the environment will double to 44 million tonnes annually, with accumulated plastic in rivers and oceans tripling from 140 million tonnes in 2019 to 493 million tonnes by 2060. Greenhouse gas emissions from plastics production and use are also expected to more than double to 4.3 Gt CO2e.

Adopting a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution is a key priority of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan under the European Green Deal. A significant milestone was achieved during the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022 when countries agreed to start treaty negotiations.

The High Ambition Coalition, co-chaired by Norway and Rwanda, unites countries advocating for ambitious goals to tackle the increasing plastic waste threatening our planet.

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