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EU joins call for ambitious global agreement to end plastic pollution by 2040

The European Union joined the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, confirming its commitment to aim high in the intergovernmental negotiations for a global agreement to end plastic pollution by 2040. In the negotiations, the EU will be pushing for a legally binding instrument, ensuring urgent action, while applying a circular approach to plastics.

“Ever since the European plastic strategy was presented in 2018, the European Union has been a driving force to tackle plastic pollution,” said Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans. “We are determined to keep pushing for ambitious action across the world, as the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises must involve all of us. Together with the members of this High Ambition Coalition, the EU will work to get a solid, global plan to end plastic pollution.”

“Plastic pollution is a global problem that needs global solutions,” added Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius. “In the EU, we continuously enhance our efforts and improve our legislation to reduce plastic litter. By joining the High Ambition Coalition to end plastic pollution, we are not only showing commitment but also readiness to lead by example.”

Plastics are important materials for our economy and daily lives. However, their exponential growth in the last decades is having serious negative effects on the environment and human health. Of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally so far, less than 10 per cent has been recycled. Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are lost to the environment, or sometimes shipped thousands of kilometres to destinations where it is mostly burned or dumped.

The adoption of a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution is a key priority of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan under the European Green Deal. The global community achieved a big milestone during the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022, when countries agreed to start negotiations for the new instrument. The EU and its Member States believe that the new instrument should include the necessary obligations enabling countries to step up actions to prevent plastics from entering the environment. A circular approach looking at the entire plastics life cycle will be key for the change needed.

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