The solution is to build a zero-waste circular plastic economy that designs out waste, eliminates unnecessary production and consumption, and safely collects and recycles plastic that cannot be eliminated. This will permanently stop plastic pollution, increase material circularity, and cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—a win-win-win scenario. But there is no silver bullet to achieve this vision. We cannot ban or recycle our way out of the plastics crisis. We need a full spectrum of circular economy solutions: better design, sustainable substitute materials, improved collection, more efficient recycling, and so on. These components should be implemented concurrently, ambitiously, and starting immediately. It won’t be easy, but it is doable if we act together and with ambition.
The good news is that a critical mass of stakeholders agrees that we need a global treaty. And leaders across the public and private sectors are making emotive promises to do everything they can to tackle plastic pollution. But a coherent global strategy to solve this growing crisis remains elusive. There are widely different views on what the treaty’s ambition, objective, scope and mechanisms should be, and we even risk ending up with a treaty that is less ambitious than current voluntary efforts.