International sustainability criteria for plastic products in a global agreement on plastic pollution
The report elaborates on what sustainability criteria for plastic products may entail in a global agreement on plastic pollution. It proposes an analytical framework for sustainability criteria, situating them as the link between global objectives and implementation measures. It discusses how sustainability criteria may be incorporated in a global agreement and what operational measures can contribute to their fulfillment, emphasising that there is no one overarching criterion for sustainable production and consumption of plastic products. Rather, a range of criteria may collectively contribute towards more sustainable production, consumption, and management of plastic products throughout their lifecycle. The report further highlights the importance of considering risks of problem-shifting in the design and integration of sustainability criteria in a global agreement.
"Currently, with more than one hundred and fifty countries expressing support for starting negotiations on a global agreement on plastic pollution following the next meeting of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA 5.2) in 2022, focus has shifted towards the consideration of what such an agreement may entail. This report follows a series of publications by the Nordic Council of Ministers on a potential global agreement on plastic pollution and will elaborate on and assess a proposed mechanism: international sustainability criteria for the life cycle of plastic products."
The sustainable consumption and production of plastic on a global level has few regulations and policies. The report by the Nordic Council of Ministers examines the feasibility and path towards a systemic shift towards sustainable consumption and production of plastic. Plastic consumption would be reduced and plastic producted are safely reused multiple times, elongating the plastic product lifecycle. This report addresses all plastic products and their stages on the value chain from resource extraxtion to waste management and treatement.
The framework outlined has international sustainability criteria that need to be met in order to improve the sustainablity of plastic consumption and production. The last principle of the criteria is transparency, which most relates to consumption by consumers and producers. Ensuring that the chemical composition and hazards of plastic products are avaliable along the value chain and for consumers and users, would change the perception on plastic products. It proposes that consumers have relevant and sufficient information to understand how to reuse, return or discard plastic products at the end of use.
The international community's interest in plastic production and consumption and the impacts on the environment is growing. An overview of how sustainability criteria may be understood and applied in a global agreement on plastic pollution is outlined in this report as a baseline for discussion.