23 Nov 2022


Eight in 10 Australians want manufacturers and retailers to be responsible for reducing, reusing and recycling their plastic packaging including soft plastics, according to a new global survey.

Ipsos polled over 23,000 people across 34 countries including Australia for the survey, which was commissioned by WWF and the Plastic Free Foundation.

The results have been released ahead of next week’s initial negotiations on what will be included in a United Nations treaty to combat plastic pollution.

Australia was one of 13 countries where support for specific global rules to regulate plastic production, consumption and management was consistently higher than global averages.

The survey found 79% of Australians want to ban unnecessary single-use plastics, 78% support a ban on plastics that cannot be easily recycled, and 78% want all new plastic products to contain recycled plastic.

Globally the survey showed seven out of 10 people believe the treaty should create binding global rules to end plastic pollution.

This finding supports a growing number of UN member states including Australia that are pushing for the world’s first ever plastic pollution treaty to include global rules and regulations for the production, design and disposal of plastic rather than a patchwork of national or voluntary standards.

“We know we can’t recycle our way out of the plastic pollution crisis – our current challenges with soft plastics is proof of that,” said Kate Noble, WWF-Australia’s No Plastics in Nature Policy Manager.

“In the past 20 years plastic consumption in Australia has nearly doubled, and is still rising. It’s time for companies that make and sell plastic to step up and take responsibility by getting rid of the plastics we don’t need and substituting for other materials where appropriate."

“Our research shows there’s enormous public appetite for global rules to reduce plastic production, consumption and pollution, and now it’s time for the Australian Government – and governments around the world – to make that happen."

“This treaty process provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tackle the problem at a global level, at every step along the plastic design, production and management process."

“But a treaty alone won’t solve the plastic pollution crisis – it must be matched by decisive action by governments in Australia at all levels. If we’re going to regenerate Australia and build a more sustainable future, we need to shift to a circular economy where plastic is kept in use, and out of nature.”

The survey is the first body of research to explicitly ask people around the world about what a global treaty to address plastic consumption and pollution should look like.

“More than 3.6 million Australians took part in Plastic Free July this year, which demonstrates a huge level of public commitment to taking action in daily life to reduce plastic consumption,” said Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Founder and Executive Director, Plastic Free Foundation.

“The public outcry over soft plastics has shown people care about plastic waste and want to do the right thing, but there are fundamental flaws in our current system."

“People really want to see governments and businesses steering a course out of the plastic mess we’re in to make it easier to limit our plastic consumption, re-use more, and dramatically reduce the estimated 2.5 million tons of plastic we throw away in Australia every year.”

Negotiations for the plastic treaty are set to take place in a series of meetings, with the first starting in Uruguay on 28 November. The full content of the treaty is expected to be agreed by UN members by the end of 2024.

During the two-year negotiation period alone, the total amount of plastic pollution in the ocean is tipped to increase by 15%.