3 Mar 2022


A pledge by nations including Australia to establish a global treaty to end plastic pollution is a huge milestone, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia.

UN members today adopted a negotiation mandate (agreed to start the negotiation) for a legally binding treaty at the UN Environment Assembly meeting in Nairobi.

The treaty will create global rules and obligations for the full life cycle of plastic, setting standards for reducing plastic production, consumption and pollution. This will hold nations, businesses, and society accountable in eliminating plastic pollution from the environment.

The full content of the treaty is expected to be developed for ratification by UN members by 2024.

WWF-Australia’s No Plastics in Nature Policy Manager, Kate Noble said the decision was a historic moment in the battle against plastic pollution.

“Today we’re a massive step closer to a world without plastic pollution,” said Ms Noble.

“The decision by all UN member states to start work on a plastic pollution treaty is a huge milestone and testament to the hard work of so many Australians, scientists and campaigners over many years."

“This treaty will help to shift the world to a circular economy where plastic is kept in use, and out of nature.”

Pressure has been mounting on governments for a legally binding treaty to address the plastic pollution crisis. More than 2.2 million people around the world have signed a WWF petition calling for this, while over 130 global companies, and more than 1,000 civil society organisations have also backed calls for a treaty.

Ms Noble commended the Australian Government’s support for a legally binding treaty, but warned more hard work and leadership was required.

Nearly nine out of ten Australians think a plastics treaty is important and it’s great to see our government taking this public mandate seriously, and supporting this UN process,” she said.

“As a vast country with amazing biodiversity and a huge coastline with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, this is an issue on which Australia should be leading the conversation."

“If we’re going to Regenerate Australia and build a more sustainable future, we need to tackle the products and processes that are contributing to the 130,000 tonnes of plastic that flows into Australia’s oceans every year."

“Today’s decision is incredibly important, but it really marks the start of the process. There will be a lot of hard work and strong leadership needed to ensure the treaty stops plastic pollution in its tracks, and Australia should be helping to shape that process.”