New global treaty can spur innovations for managing plastic pollution across Asia

Statement from WWF-Philippines on the recently-submitted Philippine NDC

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore today released its report ‘A New Treaty on Plastic Pollution: Perspectives from Asia’ that shows how a new global treaty on marine plastic pollution will benefit people, ecosystems and economies in the region, offering viable solutions for Asian countries to tackle the global plastic pollution crisis which is having pernicious impacts on the region.

The report highlights that an international framework, by establishing a level playing field and removing trade barriers, would enable Asian countries to better implement solutions such as adopting national reduction targets, introducing legislation to phase out single-use plastic products and implementing extended producer responsibility schemes.

The report, based on consultations with governments in ten countries in the region, further reveals how countries across Asia, particularly developing countries, can benefit from a new global treaty through improved access to financial resources, technical assistance, access to know-how on plastic waste management, and knowledge sharing on the methodologies for monitoring and reporting.

“Marine plastic pollution remains high despite regional efforts to address the issue. A global treaty could overcome Asia’s challenges such as a lack of data along the plastics life-cycle, knowledge gaps, insufficient monitoring, ineffective plastic waste management and lack of access to financial resources and technology. With the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA5.2) taking place in 2022, it is critical for Asian countries to actively engage in the international debate and ensure the adoption of a negotiation mandate at UNEA 5.2”, says Dr Alison Budden, Senior Policy Advisor at WWF-Singapore.

The world currently produces more than 200 million tonnes of plastic annually, with 41% of plastic waste being mismanaged as countries burn or dump their plastic trash into the environment. The top five countries that dump the most plastic in the ocean are from Asia and their share is more than half of the world’s marine plastic waste pollution.

Failure to understand and remediate the true cost of plastic will result in plastic production doubling and plastic pollution tripling by 2040.

Support is growing for a global treaty on plastic pollution with several Asian countries such as Japan, Maldives, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam already endorsing the need for the establishment of a new UN treaty on plastic pollution to be negotiated at the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly in February 2022.

They join more than two thirds of UN member states, over 75 businesses and 2.1 million people who have called for the same. 

“Tragically, Asia as a region is severely impacted by the plastic crisis but has an important role in the global plastic pollution crisis. While some countries across the region are still developing their position regarding a necessary global response, the report signals that many are converging on collective efforts to tackle the plastic pollution crisis, with increasing support for a new global agreement to drive innovations and systemic change throughout the life cycle of plastics,”  says Marilyn Quizon-Mercado, Regional Plastic Policy Coordinator for a WWF-Philippines-hosted initiative, ‘Asia, No Plastic in Nature’.

WWF calls on all governments to come together and endorse a globally binding agreement on plastic pollution.

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