International brands including Coca Cola and PepsiCo have called for a global pact to tackle plastic pollution that includes cuts in plastic production, a key growth area for the oil industry.
World leaders will meet at a conference of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) later this year to begin negotiations on a treaty to tackle a plastic waste crisis that is choking landfills, strips the oceans and kills wildlife.
It remains unclear whether a deal will focus on waste management and recycling or take tougher measures such as curtailing new plastic production, a move that would likely meet resistance from major oil and chemical companies. and major plastic-producing countries like the United States.
The more than 70 signatories to Monday’s joint statement include consumer goods companies like Unilever and Nestlé, which sell a myriad of single-use plastic products, from shampoo to chocolate bars, as well as retailer Walmart and the bank. French BNP Paribas.
“We are at a critical moment to establish an ambitious United Nations treaty,” the statement said, noting that any agreement should “reduce the production and use of virgin plastic.”
“UNEA 5.2 is the defining and most auspicious moment to turn the tide on the global plastic pollution crisis. We cannot afford to miss it,” the statement read.
Less than 10% of all plastic ever made has been recycled, and a Reuters Last year’s survey found that new recycling technologies touted by the plastics industry have struggled to tackle the problem.
Read more: Stop funding fossil fuel-based plastics and a real difference can be made: analysis
Source of future income
Meanwhile, the production of plastic, derived from oil and gas, is expected to double within 20 years. This is a key source of future revenue for energy majors as demand for fossil fuels declines with the rise of renewables and electric vehicles.
While increasing global recycling is key to tackling plastic waste, these efforts won’t prevent plastic pollution from continuing to soar without production constraints, according to a landmark 2020 study by Pew Charitable Trusts.
As pressure mounts on companies selling hard-to-recycle plastic products to tackle the resulting waste, some have teamed up with cement makers to burn plastic waste as cheap fuel in the developing world. , a Reuters investigation found last year.
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