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Plastics

Plastics

One Planet Network-Wide Plastics Initiative

Context

The One Planet network-wide Plastics Initiative responds to the request made at the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly, in its Resolution 6 on ‘Marine plastic litter and microplastics’, operative paragraph 5 (UNEP/EA.4/Res.6):

“Requests the Executive Director, through UNEP’s 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production patterns, to develop guidelines for the use and production of plastics in order to inform consumers, including about standards and labels; to incentivize businesses and retailers to commit themselves to using sustainable practices and products; and to support governments in promoting the use of information tools and incentives to foster sustainable consumption and production”.

Focus on value chains

In developing the One Planet Network-Wide Plastics Initiative stakeholders across five of the six programmes of the network worked together to implement the Value-Chain approach[1]:

The value-chain approach considers the entire value chain of economic activities, by understanding what is happening at different stages of the value chain as well as how the value chain operates as part of a system. Adopting a value-chain approach helps to identify strategic intervention points and shape corresponding actions that improve natural resource management and achieve multiple sustainability objectives simultaneously.

The approach is a methodology, and can be broadly divided into three steps:

Build on existing knowledge and available data on the plastics value chain to identify a key entry point with the greatest opportunity for improvement: plastic packaging at the use-stage of the plastics value chain was identified as the key entry point to frame the network’s collective response. Plastic packaging represents the largest application of plastics (30% of all plastics used), and the use-stage of the plastics value chain is one of the main stages of plastic loss into the marine environment (36% at a global level).

Identify initiatives already addressing the key entry point that could be leveraged for greater impact and adopt a common agenda to align actors in the network: the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, a collaborative effort of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNEP, unites more than 500 organisations behind a common vision of a circular economy for plastics, including businesses representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally. Leveraging progress under the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, the One Planet Network-Wide Plastics Initiative adopted as key principles the commitments towards the circularity of plastics that define it.

 

  1. Develop guidance for prioritized action by making use of the network’s complementary expertise: programmes of the One Planet network engaged their partners to formulate guidance on priority actions under three areas of intervention at the use-stage of the value chain, identified as current gaps in addressing plastic pollution[2]:
    1. Reliable sustainability information: standards, labels and claims
    2. Triggers for behaviour change: education and awareness campaigns
    3. Creation of markets for sustainable solutions and concrete pathways for governments to lead by example: sustainable procurement practices

These prioritised actions and other holistic solutions were applied in the tourism sector, recognised as key in addressing marine litter and plastic pollution. The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative has spun off the One Planet network’s Sustainable Tourism Programme to act as the tourism sector interface of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitmen

 

Addressing plastic across the One Planet network

Consumer Information programme

The Consumer Information programme has mobilized it's network to deliver a number of products and activities which contribute to the overall One Planet network plastics initiative. 

The report Can I Recycle This? A Global Mapping and Assessment of Standards, Labels and Claims on Plastic Packaging maps existing standards, labels and claims on plastic packing regarding sustainability characteristics such as bio-based content, compostability or recyclability.

As a follow up to the report, the Consumer Information programme has developed three key message papers to effectively implement the 5 recommendations contained in the report in order to improve consumer communications on plastic packaging.

Lifestyles and Education programme

The Sustainable Lifestyles and Education programme has developed a number of effective campaigns for influencing individual choice and behaviour; and green nudging.

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The problems related to our reliance on plastic arewell known, ranging from particulate pollution to marine waste. This is...

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The project is part of the ongoing cooperation on behavioural insights for policy-making within the UN One Planet network...

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However, the COVID-19 pandemic’s forced closure of many businesses has made engaging with consumer pilots impossible...

Sustainable Tourism programme

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution. It enables businesses, governments, and other tourism stakeholders to take concerted action, leading by example in the shift towards circularity in the use of plastics.

The initiative has developed key knowledge products through multi-stakeholder participation from the public and private sector:

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Deliverable

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A trailblazing report on plastic pollution and the integral role of sustainable consumption and production

This initiative takes a participatory approach to bring together the minds, tools, and solutions of a diverse group of stakeholders. The concrete output of these efforts will be a comprehensive report which takes a value-chain approach to examine systemic action along the plastics value chain, and provide practical and actionable recommendations based on this analysis. 

Objectives of the report

Focusing specifically on plastic packaging at the use-stage of the value chain, provide guidance on how to harness the power of consumption choices to trigger changes across the entire plastics value chain.

  • Summarize the recommended actions by governments, business, and individuals to facilitate upstream and systemic solutions to address pollution from plastic packing found across the One Planet network-wide Plastics Initiative knowledge outputs.

Show how a multi-stakeholder network can mobilize action to agilely deliver concrete outputs and a practical way to implement requests by Member States.

​​​​​​Demonstrate the crucial contribution of sustainable consumption and production concretely around SDG 12.5 on reducing waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse; SDG 12.6 on encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information; SDG 12.7 on promoting sustainable public procurement practices; and SDG 12.8 on ensuring relevant information and awareness for sustainable lifestyles. 

The report is being developed and reviewed by a working group of representatives from the One Planet network programmes, including: Consumers International, FAO, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands, Ministry of the Environment of Sweden, Stockholm Environment Institute, UNEP, Sustainable Tourism programme coordination desk, Consumer information programme coordination desk, Sustainable Public Procurement programme coordination desk, UNWTO, Ellen McArthur Foundation.

The report is currently under review, and when it is published, it will be available on this hub along with other announcements and relevant information to the One Network-wide Plastics Initiative.  

 

Related working groups

 


[1] UNEP, 2021. Catalysing Science-Based Policy Action on Sustainable Consumption and Production: The Value-Chain Approach and its Application to Food, Construction and Textiles

[2] UNEP, 2019. Addressing marine plastics: A systemic approach - Recommendations for action, p. 34.