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The world’s community of nations met in Paris this week, and more than 1,700 participants from 170 countries gathered to discuss a UN global treaty that will fight the effects of plastic pollution. This is a historic chance to end the problem of plastics and create the future world we envision to live in tomorrow.

As Delterra is a UNEP-accredited environmental non-profit, Delterra was delighted to participate in the discussions at the UNESCO location and on various other occasions throughout the day. In Paris, I was ecstatic to be along with Delterra team members Shannon Bouton, the President, and CEO; Jeremy Douglas, Director of Partnerships; Mike Stockman, Director at Plastic IQ; and Ella Flaye, Director of People.

The experience was heartening to witness the level of commitment in the discussions; We’re happy to share the results of an exciting and productive week full of valuable conversations, connections, and fresh collaborations. Here’s a quick summary of what we heard about, saw, and discussed in Paris!

“Make Paris count.”

At the beginning of the week, the executive secretary Jyoti Mathur-Filipp appealed to the participating states to “make Paris count.” In the end, there would be some issues to be overcome in the first step. “Getting more than 170-plus nations to come together to create a global treaty that would combat plastic pollution is not going to be an easy task. Negotiators didn’t anticipate clearing this first obstacle so difficult,” writes Leonie Cater in Politico.

“After a week of negotiations, the world is one step closer to the unmissable opportunity of a global treaty to end the plastic pollution crisis,” said Marco Lambertini, WWF Special Envoy, in a press announcement. “The first draft of the treaty that will now be developed must reflect the ambition shown by the vast majority of countries here in Paris and include the global bans and control measures that are needed to reduce and eliminate production and consumption of unnecessary and harmful plastic products and materials and turn the tide on plastic pollution.”

 Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

“Progressive businesses want an ambitious global legally binding treaty.”

“Voluntary action by individual companies and their leaders can only ever be one part of the solution,” said Mark Schneider, Chief Executive Officer at Nestle, and Antoine de Saint-Affrique, Chief Executive Officer of Danone, via the WEF’s blog, calling for a more coordinated regulation to address plastic pollution.

The Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty, of which Delterra is an NGO participant, and Delterra is an NGO member, stated in a declaration, “We believe that legally binding global regulations and harmonized policies are essential to bringing about the world to change to reduce the impact of plastics on the environment. We are extremely pleased by the fact that over 130 of the member states have formally demanded legally binding rules that provide a level playfield that is fair for everyone in companies.”

“The question is no longer why but how.”

Together with our founding partner McKinsey & Company, Delterra was thrilled to gather about 40 senior leaders from international NGOs, companies, and institutions to discuss the future of circularity in plastics and the application of sustainable packaging pledges.

“Last year, 175 countries adopted a resolution to create a legally binding agreement by the end of 2024 to end plastic pollution,” Shannon said when she opened the roundtable. “Just as decisions made by governments are essential to move things forward, companies are also playing a major part to take on. For businesses, the issue is not so much about why they should you should reduce plastic waste and how to do it, but what. The collaboration across value chains is crucial.”

“There is a lack of funding for infrastructure in the Global South.”

The most important thing to developing scalable and sustainable solutions scalable, sustainable solutions is to determine the universal truth and what is uniquely cultural. When a region’s growth rate is more quickly than its recycling and waste management infrastructure, it is necessary first to understand the context of the region and then adapt solutions based on the local context that can transform this system into a manner that is suitable and sustainable for the area and will eventually be managed and owned by the local community.

“The big challenge in bringing the circular economy to the Global South is lack of funding for waste management and recycling infrastructure,” Shannon said to Forbes during an interview. “This means that recyclable materials technically are not recycled because factories don’t exist to treat them. There are other urgent issues, and the need to borrow more money to pay for waste isn’t the top priority. It’s also not appealing enough for investors from the private sector to generate an income because there’s plenty of system construction to complete before projects become feasible for banks to finance.”

“Recycling alone is not enough to #BeatPlasticPollution.”

Along with the partners of Systemiq, Delterra hosted a roundtable to design a system that does not rely on plastic waste, with the help of Plastic IQ, an open-source digital platform developed through Delterra, The Recycling Partnership, and Systemiq and supported by Walmart providing.

In his presentation at the ceremony, Mike said: “This is a free-to-use suite of digital tools that allows companies to understand better the environmental and economic impact of their current plastic footprint, increase their knowledge on how to improve that impact, determine the most effective plastic footprint reduction strategy, and accelerate their transition to a circular economy.”

Thank you to the attendees who attended, including many Business for Plastics Treaty members, for the informative discussions and for promoting the production of fewer plastics, the circulation of materials, the remediation of leaky materials, and for ensuring the sustainable existence of informal and formal waste workers.

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Jane S. King

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