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May 20, 2024
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Countries Eye 40% Plastic Reduction by 2040

Countries are for the first time considering a global restriction on plastic production, aiming for a 40% reduction by 2040, in an attempt to protect human health and the environment.

As the world attempts to make a treaty to cut plastic waste at UN talks in Ottawa, Canada, two countries have put forward the first concrete proposal to limit production to reduce its harmful effects including the huge carbon emissions from producing it.

The motion submitted by Rwanda and Peru sets out a global reduction target, ambitiously termed a “north star.” It says: “The effectiveness of both supply and demand-side measures will be assessed, in whole or in part, on their success in reducing the production of primary plastic polymers to sustainable levels.”

A global plastic reduction target would be similar to the legally binding Paris agreement to pursue efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5C above preindustrial levels, Rwanda and Peru said.

“The target should align with our objectives for a safe circular economy for plastics by closing the circularity gap between production and consumption,” the countries said.

“It should also align with our objective in the Paris agreement to limit warming to 1.5C. To this end, one such global reduction target could be a 40% reduction by 2040 against a 2025 baseline.”

Plastic production is a significant driver of climate breakdown, as most plastic is made from fossil fuels. A study by scientists at the US-based Lawrence Berkeley National Lab has estimated that by 2050 plastic production could account for 21-31% of the world’s carbon emission budget required to limit global heating to 1.5C.

Countries agreed at UN talks in 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya, that a treaty to cut plastic waste must address the full life cycle of plastic. They promised to forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024. The Ottawa talks, aim to get 175 countries to agree the draft text of the treaty.

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