22 Feb 2022


  • New global survey shows nearly nine in 10 Australians support a global treaty to combat plastic pollution.
  • 77% of Australians surveyed think single-use plastics should be banned as soon as possible.
  • WWF and the Plastic Free Foundation call on the Australian Government to help deliver a legally binding global treaty at the UN Environment Assembly next week.

Nearly nine in 10 Australians support a global treaty to combat plastic pollution and almost 80% think single-use plastics should be banned as soon as possible, according to a new global survey.

Ipsos polled over 20,000 people across 28 countries including Australia for the Plastic Free Foundation, who worked in partnership with WWF to analyse the results. It is the first comprehensive survey on the need for a plastic pollution treaty that could set global standards for reducing plastic production, consumption and pollution, with the goal of ending plastic pollution.

It comes ahead of the UN Environment Assembly meeting in Nairobi next week, when Australia and other nations will consider whether to start negotiations on a plastic pollution treaty.

The survey results show 86% of Australians think a plastic pollution treaty is important, with one third saying it’s essential. Globally the survey found nearly 88% of people believe a global treaty is important to address the plastic pollution crisis.

There are also high levels of public support for phasing out problematic plastics, with 77% of Australians saying single-use plastics should be banned as soon as possible and 82% declaring they want to buy products that use as little plastic packaging as possible.

The survey also found 86% of Australians think manufacturers and retailers should be made responsible for reducing, reusing and recycling plastic packaging.

These demands are in line with a full lifecycle approach to the management of plastic consumption and pollution, which Peru and Rwanda have proposed to nations to consider at the UN Environment Assembly starting on 28 February.

“We know people are extremely concerned about the growing plastic pollution crisis. Last year 3.3 million Australians took part in Plastic Free July, but individual action is not enough. We need an ambitious mandate and targets that reframe our relationship with plastics so that people’s health and the environment are not at risk from plastic pollution. This survey is a clear call by Australians and people from all corners of the world that they want their governments to act now,” said Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Founder and Executive Director, Plastic Free Foundation.

A recent WWF-commissioned review found that plastic has infiltrated all parts of the world’s oceans, with at least 2,144 species suffering from plastic pollution in their habitat. The review also notes that without action, ocean plastic pollution will quadruple by 2050.

Pressure has been mounting on governments for a legally binding treaty to address this plastic pollution crisis. More than 2.2 million people have signed a WWF petition, while over 120 global companies, and more than 1000 civil society organisations have also backed calls for a treaty.

The Australian Government supports efforts to develop a binding global agreement to combat plastic pollution, but has not yet co-sponsored a draft resolution that would formally start the treaty development process.

WWF-Australia’s No Plastics in Nature Policy Manager, Kate Noble called on the Australian Government to co-sponsor a strong draft resolution at the UN Environment Assembly and play a proactive role in developing a legally binding global treaty.

“Australians have made their views clear. The onus is now on our government to help deliver a treaty with teeth that puts us on a pathway to ending plastic pollution by 2030. We cannot afford to settle for anything less,” said Ms Noble.

“Every year Australia lets 130,000 tonnes of plastic flow into our oceans and this goes on to indiscriminately kill marine mammals, birds and other creatures. We know how to stop plastic pollution and we know the cost of inaction will come at the expense of our beautiful beaches and marine wildlife. There is no excuse for delaying a global treaty to tackle this crisis."

“If we’re to Regenerate Australia and build a more sustainable future, we need to address the plastics and processes that are polluting our environment and threatening our wildlife.”