In an article published on August 9, 2016 by the magazine Ensia, political scientist Nils Simon reports on the global environmental problem of plastic pollution. Simon writes that the problem is expected to get worse because plastics production “is continuing to increase worldwide.” Simone notes that a number of initiatives have recognized the problem, such as the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, the G7 Leader’s Declaration of 2015, as well as several initiatives against marine litter launched by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP). However, so far “these initiatives have done little to solve the problem,” Simon declares. He believes that “a more hands-on approach [on global governance of plastic pollution] can at least pave the way toward more durable solutions.” Simon sees the need for “negotiating a global treaty aimed at reducing plastic pollution that goes beyond marine pollution and tackles the roots of the problem.”

One option to achieve this could be to negotiate a “multilateral environmental agreement dealing specifically with the production, use and disposal of plastics.” The Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm, or Minamata Convention could serve as a model for a plastics treaty “because they contain provisions on how to deal with harmful substances from a life-cycle perspective, ban the most hazardous ones, and offer a framework through which countries in need can receive assistance.” A second option could be to amend the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal “to specifically address plastic throughout its life cycle.” Simon names five critical elements that should be included in a plastics treaty: 1) a common vision and clear goals to achieve sustainable management of all plastics throughout their life cycle, 2) building effective national collection and recycling systems and fostering extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes and multi-stakeholder partnerships, 3) creating conditions for a more circular plastics economy, 4) providing mechanisms to deal with plastic waste that remains, and 5) providing funds for implementation.

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Nils Simon (August 9, 2016). “We need a global treaty on plastics. Here’s what it should look like.Ensia

Todd Reubold (August 15, 2016). “8 maps show plastic’s impact on the world’s oceans — and what’s being done about it.Ensia