Global Plastics Treaty: Make it Bold, Make it Binding

Thanks to the tireless work of the #breakfreefromplastic movement and GAIA members around the world, this March, 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. GAIA and our members and partners will be tracking the entirety of the negotiations to develop the treaty itself over the next two years, to ensure that it is as strong as it must be to meet the scale of the crisis.

Latest Updates

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives Submission to INC2

For GAIA’s position on what needs to be achieved in INC2 coming up later this year, please see our submission below.

Press Release: GAIA and BFFP React to the Closing of INC1

The first intergovernmental committee meeting (INC-1) for an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded today with a mix of high and low moments, setting the stage for a two-year-long process that could result in one of the most significant multilateral environmental agreements in history. 

Press Release: Historic Recognition of Waste Pickers in Plastics Treaty Negotiations

The formation of a Group of Friends of Waste Pickers was announced on November 29 at the negotiations towards a global plastics treaty. This historic moment marks unprecedented recognition of the rights, skills, and importance of the informal waste sector; never before have countries formally committed to advocate on behalf of waste pickers in the context of international negotiations.

Blog: What are the key points for the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations Committee INC-1 to be truly successful?

The first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations Committee (INC-1), the organization in charge of developing the future treaty, begins on November 28 in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The success of the first meeting of the INC will depend on several factors explained here.

Defining Plastic Products, Materials and Polymers: A Proposal

Adequate definitions of plastic products and polymers are needed in the global plastic treaty to capture the full range of sources of plastic pollution (November 2022).

Recommendations for INC1

GAIA’s recommendations for the first intergovernmental negotiation round (November 2022).

Submission to the INC Process on Plastic Pollution July 15, 2022

GAIA’s recommendations for the negotiation process towards a global instrument on plastic pollution.

Read the Policy Briefing Series

Plastics Crisis: Challenges, Advances and Relationship with Waste Pickers

Negotiations must include the recognition of the historical work of those who have recovered more materials and in the most efficient way: the waste pickers.

Rommel Cabrera/GAIA, 2019. Waste pickers collecting separated waste from households. Tacloban City, the Philippines.

Overview of the Plastics Treaty/Tratado sobre plásticos

Plastic pollution does not respect borders. It is in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and even in our bodies. A new binding legal instrument, covering the entire lifecycle of plastic, is required to tackle this planetary crisis.

The Plastic Waste Trade

Top exporters such as the United States, Germany, the UK, Japan and Australia are placing a disproportionate toxic burden on the environment and communities in importing countries. A Global Plastics Treaty can enact stricter measures on the waste trade to prevent environmental injustices.

Plastic and Waste Pickers/Recicladores

Plastic takes up a large percentage of the waste handled by waste pickers. Consequently, they are one of the most vulnerable occupation groups that stand to be impacted by the global plastics treaty. The treaty must establish the legal frameworks required to improve working conditions for waste pickers.

Toxics and Health

Plastic contains toxic chemicals that leach into our food, water, and soil. Out of about 10,000 chemicals used as plastic additives, few have been widely studied, let alone regulated. A treaty must address plastic’s toxic burden.

Plastic and Climate Change/Los plásticos y el cambio climático

Plastic is a significant contributor to climate change throughout its lifecycle. By 2050, emissions from plastic alone will take up over a third of the remaining carbon budget for a 1.5 °C target. A plastics treaty must impose legally-binding plastic reduction targets.

Chemical “Recycling” and Plastic-to-Fuel

Faced with increasing pressure from lawmakers and civil society to reduce plastic production and greater awareness of the limits of mechanical recycling, the petrochemical industry has been peddling chemical “recycling” and “plastic-to-fuel” as a primary solution to plastic pollution. However, after billions of dollars and decades of development, these approaches do not work as advertised. A plastics treaty stands to be undermined if it embraces these industry-backed false solutions.

Waste Incineration and Burning Waste in Cement Kilns

Burning waste emits climate pollution and other toxic chemicals, and is the least energy-efficient and most costly method of energy production. A plastics treaty must adopt a moratorium on new incinerators and encourage a roadmap to phase out all existing incinerators by 2030.

Plastic Neutrality and Credit

The global plastics treaty provides an important opportunity to officially discourage or ban the use of plastic credits before they become widespread. Doing so would avoid the incredible amount of regulatory oversight needs —both in the private and public sectors— to organize and
manage international plastic credit markets. The collective efforts could be better spent on reducing plastic production rapidly.

Zero Waste Finance

A transition from a plastic-reliant economy toward a circular zero waste economy requires effective mobilization and allocation of financial resources. Public and private finance have distinct and intersecting roles to play in supporting and scaling up innovations for waste prevention, redesign, alternative delivery and reuse systems as well as improving existing waste collection and recycling systems.

Extended Producer Responsibility

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies seek to improve the environmental and social performance of products by holding producers and brand owners accountable for the entire lifecycle of their products. The global plastics treaty must embed well-designed EPR policies in it, guiding producers to prioritize upstream solutions.


The global Plastics Treaty must focus on plastic reduction and reuse, instead of substituting a plastic single-use item for a bio-based, biodegradable, or compostable one.


Over the years it has been discussed whether #plasticpollution regulation is sufficiently based on science. We unfolded the science behind in our new paper. Thanks for leading Maria. @RegEngrg @nikolineoturai #PlasticsTreaty #microplastics @Richardjcronin

🚨🚨🚨BREAKING: 2023 #WorldEnvironmentDay thème is …🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁#plasticpollution
📍Host Country: Côte d'Ivoire
🗓️5 June.

ICC Chair Sara Olsvig presented at the second intergovernmental negotiating committee on the creation of a global plastics treaty. She argued for the “precautionary approach” (begins at 7:50) #Inuit #PlasticsTreaty @UNEP

Like #father ,Like #Son. He has joined the team of #Volunteers to get rid of #plasticpollution and civic educate fellows

Why can't you support him and us by donating to;

#ClimateAction #PlasticsTreaty #plasticfree #cop26 #COP27 #oceans #WasteToWealth

ICC Chair Sara Olsvig presented at the second intergovernmental negotiating committee on the creation of a global plastics treaty. She argued for the “precautionary approach” (begins at 7:50) #Inuit #PlasticsTreaty @UNEP

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