Global Plastics Treaty: six things you need to know

Talks have begun at the UN that could finally end the age of single-use plastic worldwide. Here are the key facts.


Plastic pollution is a global problem that needs a global solution. But hope is on the horizon. A Global Plastics Treaty is gaining momentum. A strong treaty would finally give governments the power to hold polluters to account and would be a huge step towards a plastic free future.

Negotiations for the Global Plastics Treaty have started, with the goal of completing the process by the end of 2024. The future treaty has a huge potential to put the world on a path towards a plastic-free future but it will be up to us to make sure that it delivers on its promises.

1. This all starts with you

Don’t doubt it. Governments are only talking about this because people like you signed petitions, spread the word on social media and told them again and again to end the plastic crisis. They’ve finally listened. The first round of negotiations took place in Uruguay in November, and Greenpeace had an official delegation at the talks. A legally-binding treaty is due by 2025, and we’ll make sure your voice is heard at every stage of the negotiations.

2. The cutlery ban isn’t enough

You might have seen that single-use items like plastic cutlery, plates and trays are being banned in England. It’s a step in the right direction, but nowhere near enough (and England is still trailing behind Scotland and Wales). We need a comprehensive plastic production reduction strategy, and the global plastic treaty could help bring that about.

3. This treaty is desperately needed

Plastics are in the air we breathe, the food we eat and even in our blood. They kill wildlife and poison our land and oceans. They make the climate crisis worse, with 99% of plastics made from oil and gas. And people in the Global South are often hardest hit, as plastic factories pump out toxic pollution and wealthy countries dump their plastic waste overseas.

4. Our demands are clear

Plastic production and use needs to be slashed, with the focus on reusing and refilling – instead of recycling. Plastic producers must be held to account for the damage done by their plastics. We need to know exactly how much plastic is produced, how it’s used and where it ends up. Funding needs to be agreed to fight plastic pollution. And affected communities and workers all need to be right at the heart of the talks.

5. We’ll show the UK reality

The Big Plastic Count, our joint campaign with the organisation Everyday Plastic, saw nearly 100,000 households counting and recording every piece of plastic waste for a week in 2022. It revealed UK households throw away nearly 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging a year – and at best 12% actually gets recycled. We’re running The Big Plastic Count again in 2024, starting in March. You can sign up here.

6. We need you to keep the pressure up

Negotiations happen behind closed doors, and we know the big plastic producers will be out in force to water down the treaty. That can’t happen. So in the coming months, we’ll be on the ground at the talks, we’ll expose what’s happening and we’ll need you to stand with campaigners worldwide, using your voice to keep momentum building. Please sign and share the petition to show just how many of us are demanding an end to the age of plastic.

Join the Big Plastic Count

By counting all the plastic you throw away for a week, you can help gather the vital evidence we need to convince UK ministers, supermarkets and big brands to lead the way at global talks that could finally phase out plastic production for good.

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