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Plastic Makers Call for Global Agreement to Eliminate Plastic Waste

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Matthew Kastner
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WASHINGTON (September 1, 2021) – The leaders of two of the world’s largest plastic makers today called for a global agreement among nations to eliminate plastic waste in the environment, urging governments and stakeholders worldwide to press for a treaty resolution at upcoming United Nations meetings.

Dow Chairman and CEO Jim Fitterling and LyondellBasell CEO Bob Patel participated in today’s Wall Street Journal special event “Getting There: A Global Agreement to End Plastic Waste.” They spoke on behalf of the American Chemistry Council and the International Council of Chemical Associations, which represent leading chemical and plastic makers globally.

The two told the Journal’s Phillipa Leighton-Jones that plastic makers are committed and eager to increase constructive engagement with governments and other stakeholders to advance a circular economy, in which plastics are reused instead of discarded. “Simply put,” said Fitterling, “Our vision is to prevent plastics from entering our environment by achieving universal access to waste collection and reusing instead of discarding plastics.”

They urged support for a resolution at the UN Environment Assembly in February 2022 that would begin negotiations on a global agreement to end plastic waste in the environment. “We should not confuse the value of plastics with the issue of plastic waste,” said Patel. “This is a global challenge requiring a global solution. With support from the UN, we can develop a global framework to help us solve this critical issue.”

To enable their vision, plastic makers have proposed a set of five principles to eliminate plastic waste, accelerate a circular economy for plastics, and serve as the basis for a global agreement.

  1. All governments agree to eliminate plastic waste leakage into the environment by a specific date and develop regionally appropriate national action plans and policies that allow flexibility based on local circumstances.
  2. Achieve widespread access to waste collection and support deployment of technologies (including advanced recycling) to increase the circularity of plastics.
  3. Recognize the role plastics play in a lower carbon future by supporting life cycle analysis as a means to evaluate impacts of plastics and alternatives.
  4. Support innovation in product and packaging design by developing, with industry input, global guidance on design, recycled content, and resource optimization.
  5. Measure progress on plastic waste through globally accepted definitions and reporting metrics, using validated and harmonized methodologies.

More information about the five principles can be found here.

“Jim and Bob have taken a leadership role in developing solutions to eliminate plastic waste in our environment, both at their companies and for the industry,” said Joshua Baca, vice president of plastics at the American Chemistry Council. “Plastic makers look forward to participating in discussions on a new agreement that will help bring scalable solutions to ending plastic waste around the world.”

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

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