Single-use plastics. At the end of December 2023 the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released the new zero draft proposing a “Legally Binding Treaty on Plastic Pollution”. The document presents the progress of the discussion at the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3), which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from November 13-19, and will be the starting point for the next meeting of the Committee (INC-4), which will take place from April 23-30, 2024 in Ottawa, Canada. Based on the meetings to be held this year, the first final version of the future treaty is expected to be presented in the last months of 2024.
The new document condenses all the drafting options made during INC-3. The draft proposes multiple formulas and contents, highlighting, for example, that negotiating countries include in the scope of the final text plastics in their entire life cycle, “from extraction to production, use, design, consumption and disposal”.
Along the lines of the previously published zero draft, the new text urges countries to develop and implement a national plan. It will have to contain which plastic products are problematic and avoidable, chemicals and polymers of concern, the system of reuse, reduction and repair of plastics and plastic products, the use of recycled plastic products, extended producer responsibility provisions, among other aspects.
As for which alternatives to the use of plastics may be used, the draft recommends that they be evaluated according to their environmentally sustainable nature and their economic and social impact, ensuring that their use does not affect human food.
The process of establishing the Plastic Pollution Treaty will focus on reviewing and strengthening the draft presented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In this line, at the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which will take place from April 23-30, 2024 in Ottawa, Canada, the participating countries will analyze the drafting options contained in the new draft document reflected in this note, and should move forward on a final draft of the new treaty. The first version of the final document is expected to be known in the last months of 2024.