Our planet is already overwhelmed with plastic, and the industry’s plans to increase production of plastic are untenable. Plastic packaging is not only toxic for humans, it is permanently harming the health of the oceans and exacerbating climate change. Exposing the threats of plastic and the root causes of our plastic waste crisis is key to our fight to end plastic pollution. Working with cities, we show the growing volume of plastic waste through city-wide waste assessments and brand audits. This data gives us the power to uncover the true culprits of the global plastic pollution problem: corporate boardrooms in the U.S. & Europe.

GAIA plays key roles in the global Break Free From Plastic movement, particularly supporting our members to build Zero Waste City systems that move cities from outdated waste management infrastructure to people-centric and community-centric plastic reduction solutions. We support powerful grassroots movements to fight plastic pollution, advocate for a reduction-first approach to plastic pollution, connect the dots between human health and plastic packaging, and more.


In addition to supporting new national policy victories, GAIA, members, and allies have played an important role in uncovering the impacts of the global plastic waste trade crisis on frontline communities.

Our work encourages governments to adopt new policies that align with the global Basel Convention by limiting or ending plastic waste trade and avoiding loopholes to ensure real impact.


Global Plastics Treaty

Thanks to the tireless work of the #breakfreefromplastic movement and GAIA members around the world, in March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly decided on a mandate to create the world’s first Plastics Treaty, a legally binding international law aimed at reducing plastic pollution worldwide, covering the full life-cycle of plastic. This is a historic step forward in the fight against plastic pollution, and would not have been possible without a diverse movement of waste pickers, frontline community activists, and zero waste advocates demanding systemic change. However, there’s still a long road ahead–there will be a series of meetings through the end of 2024 during which the treaty will take shape. GAIA and our allies will be present to make sure our issues are represented, but it will take continuing pressure from people all over the world to ensure that we get a strong treaty.

The Basel Convention and Plastic Waste Trade

GAIA and its members are fighting to end Global North plastic waste dumping in Global South countries, and advocating Basel Convention leadership for a worldwide shift towards localized zero waste economies that foster sharply reduced plastic production, discourage false solutions like so-called “chemical recycling,” and end plastic waste burning, which poisons people and planet and harms our climate.


The plastic industry’s promises of “plastic to fuel” & “chemical recycling” are a distraction.

These false solutions justify the continued production of plastic, fail to address the source of the problem, and are themselves pollution sources.

Photo credit: Adam Dean/GAIA

To stop plastic pollution, we have to stop burning plastic. Waste incinerators make climate pollution, toxic pollution, and hazardous ash. The only solution to plastic pollution is to limit plastic production itself.