The governments of 175 nations worldwide have agreed to start working towards a global agreement on the production, use, and disposal of plastics.
The proposal for a legally binding treaty follows a UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya earlier this month.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said the agreement is the most important international multilateral environmental deal since the Paris climate accord, while the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) described it as one of the world’s most ambitious environmental actions since the 1989 Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-depleting substances.
It’s estimated about 9 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the production began ramping up in the 1950s. In 2015 alone, 381 million tonnes of plastic were produced globally.
Under the terms of the agreement reached in Kenya, world leaders have until 2024 to finalise a plastic pollution treaty, including which elements will be legally binding and how the deal will be financed.
UNEA members agreed to recognise the fact that lower and middle-income countries have less capacity to dispose of recycle plastic and have to be given extra resources to make the pact effective.