Good News and Bad News

Ottawa, Canada - Progress was indeed achieved during the latest round of negotiations in Ottawa, Canada, regarding the plastic pollution treaty. This session was significant as it marked the first occasion where negotiators delved into the specifics of the treaty's text, a notable transition from the conceptual phase to the practical drafting stage. VOICE's international partners and other observers at the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution welcomed this shift, recognising it as a crucial step forward in the process.

However, according to Break Free From Plastic, one of the most contentious issues discussed revolved around the proposal to impose global limits on plastic production. This proposal faced vehement opposition from nations heavily invested in plastic production, as well as from oil and gas exporters. The presence of fossil fuels and chemicals in plastics further intensified the debate surrounding this topic.

We want a #PlasticsTreaty that Prioritises Reuse Systems, Refill and Repair.

Despite the divergent viewpoints, the committee decided to prolong discussions and continue refining the treaty before convening for the final meeting, which will take place later this year in South Korea. The forthcoming sessions will prioritise aspects such as financing mechanisms, comprehensive assessments of chemical components in plastic products, and strategies for enhancing product design.

Amidst these negotiations, it's essential to highlight the significant influence of industry lobbying, which has exerted considerable pressure on the formulation of the treaty. Representatives from industries associated with plastic production and chemical associations have vehemently opposed measures that would curtail plastic manufacturing. Their stance emphasises prioritising recycling initiatives, advocating for what is sometimes termed as "circularity."

Alternative Plastics are still Plastic.

Moreover, the lobbying efforts have not been confined to mere rhetoric; they've included aggressive tactics aimed at discrediting scientific research on plastic pollution. Scientists, who have been providing critical data to inform the negotiations, have reported instances of harassment and intimidation from industry lobbyists. Such attempts to undermine scientific evidence underscore the need for robust measures to counter misinformation and ensure informed decision-making.

By Lyndsey O'Connell

Despite these challenges posed by industry interests, there remains a shared commitment among participating nations to forge ahead with the treaty process. Ecuador's chief negotiator emphasised the importance of the treaty in safeguarding the future of life on the planet, underscoring the collective responsibility to address the plastic pollution crisis.

In addition to the governmental and scientific perspectives, the voices of affected communities and indigenous groups have been instrumental in highlighting the real-world implications of plastic pollution. Communities residing near plastic manufacturing facilities and refineries, such as those in Louisiana and Texas, have been particularly vocal, urging negotiators to acknowledge the environmental injustices they face.

Indigenous peoples, whose ancestral lands and food sources are directly impacted by plastic pollution, have also been vocal advocates for meaningful action. Their calls for greater inclusion and decision-making power reflect a broader push for environmental justice and recognition of indigenous rights in treaty negotiations.

In essence, while industry lobbying poses a significant challenge to the formulation of an effective plastic pollution treaty, it's essential to recognize the diverse range of perspectives and voices contributing to this complex global issue. By addressing the concerns of affected communities, incorporating scientific evidence, and upholding principles of environmental justice, negotiators can work towards developing a robust treaty that truly reflects the urgency of the plastic pollution crisis.