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One Planet Network-Wide Plastics Initiative

Context

Plastics was adopted as theme across the One Planet network for 2020-2021. Further to this the 4th UN Environment Assembly Resolution 6 on Marine litter and microplastics:

“requests the Executive Director, through UNEP’s 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production patterns, to develop guidelines for the use and production of plastics in order to inform consumers, including about standards and labels; to incentivize businesses and retailers to commit themselves to using sustainable practices and products; and to support governments in promoting the use of information tools and incentives to foster sustainable consumption and production”.

The actions undertaken across the One Planet network focus on a common narrative that builds on the evidence and knowledge produced by UNEP, while leveraging the different expertise and partnerships within the programmes of the One Planet network.

Focus

Plastic packaging at the use-stage of the plastics value chain has been identified as the key entry point to frame the network’s collective response.

  • Plastic packaging represents the largest application of plastics, 30% of all plastics used.
  • The use-stage of the plastics value chain is one of the main stages of plastic loss into the marine environment.

To change procurement practices and trigger behaviour change at the use-stage of the value chain programmes are collaborating in the development of:

  1. A guidance on bidding criteria and contract conditions on plastic packaging to guide public and private procurement and purchasing.
  2. A global mapping and assessment of standards, labels and claims on plastic packaging.
  3. A global mapping and assessment of plastic pollution campaigns.

These will be applied in the tourism and agri-food sectors which are recognised as key value chains in addressing marine litter and plastic pollution.

 

The key principles of the One Planet network initiative on plastic are based on the evidence and knowledge produced by UNEP and are the commitments that define the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

The Global Commitment encourages organisations to commit to a set of ambitious 2025 targets that will work to eliminate the plastic items we don’t need; innovate so all plastics we do need are designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted; and circulate everything we use to keep it in the economy and out of the environment.

As such it includes the following commitments:

  • Take action to eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging
  • Take action to move from single use towards re-use models
  • 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
  • Set an ambitious recycled content target

The focus and key principles are common across all initiatives on plastics undertaken by the One Planet network. While this sets the overall approach across the One Planet network, the programmes will also undertake further specific actions that contribute to the uptake of these key principles.

Deliverable

The deliverable is a document that provides guidance on addressing plastic packaging at the use-stage of the plastics value chain and will highlight how sustainable consumption and production effectively addresses plastic pollution. It is the One Planet network’s response to the request made in the UNEA4 resolution on marine litter and microplastics.

As such, the guidance will include the common principles and narrative adopted by the One Planet network, as well as chapters structured around the 3 pillars of the strategy - 1) lead and set the agenda, 2) provide tools and solutions, 3) demonstrate the role of SCP – highlighting the actions of the programmes in facilitating the uptake and implementation of the common principles and commitments on plastic pollution. The chapters are authored by the organisations leading these activities.

The guidance will be composed of the following chapters:

  1. Framing the issue (UNEP)
  2. Key principles and common definitions on addressing plastic pollution (UNEP & Ellen MacArthur Foundation)
  3. Set the agenda on addressing pollution from plastic packaging at the use-stage of the value chain: informing consumers, incentivising business, and supporting governments in changing procurement practices and triggering behaviour change.
  4. Tools and solutions to address plastic pollution and facilitate uptake and implementation of the commitments
    1. Guidance on the use of standards, labels and claims to more effectively tackle plastic packaging pollution (Consumer Information Programme)
    2. Guidance on bidding criteria and contract conditions on plastic packaging to guide public and private procurement and purchasing (Sustainable Public Procurement Programme)
    3. Guidance on the use of plastic pollution campaigns to trigger behavioural changes in the use of plastic packaging (Sustainable Lifestyles & Education Programme)
    4. Guidance on sustainable use of plastic packaging in agri-food value chains (Sustainable Food Systems Programme)
    5. Guidance, tools and methodologies supporting the tourism sector in addressing plastic packaging (Sustainable Tourism Programme)
  5. Best practices (examples or case studies) on the implementation of the key principles and the global commitment (organisations in the One Planet network collected through reporting)
  6. The role of sustainable consumption and production in addressing plastic pollution (UNEP)

The expected overall length of the guidance document is between 50 and 75 pages, providing an average length of each chapter of 5-10 pages. It is highly encouraged that the inputs provided are concise and targeted. Due consideration will be given to chapters 4 and 5 which may require length than other chapters.

The guidance document may be accompanied by further dissemination activities in the lead up to UNEA5 in March 2021, as well as by action that the programmes may undertake that go beyond UNEA5.

Timeline

The guidance document is to be finalised by October 2020. 

Any further dissemination activities will be undertaken in the lead up to UNEA5 in March 2021.

 

References: 

UN Environment (2018). Mapping of global plastics value chain and plastics losses to the environment (with a particular focus on marine environment). Ryberg, M., Laurent, A., Hauschild, M. United Nations Environment Programme. Nairobi, Kenya.

UN Environment (2018). Addressing marine plastics: A systemic approach - Stocktaking report. Notten, P. United Nations Environment Programme. Nairobi, Kenya.
New Plastics Economy Global Commitment – definitions.
 

Photo credits: Brian Yurasits (Unsplash), Dustan Woodhouse (Unsplash)

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