International brands including Coca Cola and PepsiCo called for a global pact to combat plastic pollution that includes cuts in plastic production.
World officials will meet at a United Nations Environment Assembly conference (UNEA 5.2) later this year to start negotiations on a treaty to tackle a plastic waste crisis that is choking landfills, despoiling oceans and killing wildlife.
The more than 70 signatories in the joint statement include consumer goods companies like Unilever and Nestle, which sell a myriad of products in single-use plastic from shampoo to chocolate bars, as well as retailer Walmart and French bank BNP Paribas.
“We are at a critical point in time to establish an ambitious U.N. treaty,” the statement said, noting that any deal should “reduce virgin plastic production and use.”
“UNEA 5.2 is the decisive, most auspicious moment to turn the tide on the global plastic pollution crisis. We cannot afford to miss it,” the statement said.
The ocean is home to coral reefs, the longest mountain chain in the world, ocean trenches and over 220,000 known species. It is also home to around 75 -199 million tons of plastic pollution.
Meanwhile, production of plastic, which is derived from oil and gas, is projected to double within 20 years. This is a key source of future revenue for energy majors, as demand for fossil fuels wanes with the rise of renewable energy and electric vehicles.
While scaling-up global recycling is critical to tackling plastic waste, these efforts will not prevent plastic pollution from continuing to skyrocket without constraints on production, a landmark 2020 study by Pew Charitable Trusts found.