INC-4: Seize the Moment To End Plastic Pollution

Apr 18, 2024 1:35 PM ET

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to solve the plastic pollution crisis.

There is overwhelming support around the world to reduce plastic pollution, even among major plastic-production countries. In fact, recent polling shows that 85% of people globally would be in favor of a ban on single-use plastic. Leaders in the business community see a future without plastic pollution and are actively pursuing measures to develop alternatives to petroleum-based plastic. But to sustain these efforts, we need policymakers to develop regulations that ensure a level playing field and deliver greater transparency to minimize supply chain risks.

That’s where the Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution comes in. The fourth negotiating session, or INC-4, begins April 23rd, and is our last best chance to focus on achieving a successful treaty outcome.

We recently sat down with Erin Simon, WWF’s Vice President and Head of Plastic Waste + Business, to discuss what’s at stake with INC-4, how a global plastics treaty would impact Americans, and what we can all do to support the adoption of a strong, legally-binding agreement.

Why is INC-4 important?

"The global plastic treaty is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prevent irreversible economic, health, and environmental damage from plastic pollution. INC-4 is a pivotal moment in the treaty’s development—will we seize this opportunity, with an ambitious treaty, or will we kick the can further down the road?"

How will the Global Plastics Treaty affect Americans?

"We are advocating for a strong treaty that bans the most harmful and avoidable high-risk plastic products. So you would see a phase out of things like polystyrene, opaque or pigmented PET and everyday items like single-use cutlery and straws replaced by more effective, safer materials that are already widely available. We also want to see strong financial mechanisms to support a just transition, so historically disadvantaged areas—especially in the global South but even communities in the US—will no longer be left to suffer the worst effects of plastic pollution. And bottom line, a strong treaty would mean less plastic polluting our oceans, neighborhoods, and even our bodies."

What can the average person do to support the Global Plastics Treaty?

"There is so much the average person can do to support. First be loud—tell your friends, talk about the treaty on social media, help get the word out that this is important. Next, call your representatives, let them know you support local and global action to tackle the plastic crisis. Only have a minute to spare? You can sign World Wildlife Fund’s petition for a successful and effective global treaty."