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  • Writer's pictureMarkus Horcher

A global solution to meet a global challenge: a UN treaty on plastic pollution is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle the crisis

The harm caused by plastic leaking into our environments is well acknowledged, from habitat reduction on land, to microplastics in the ocean, and a reduced standard of living for communities around the world. The solution is to transform the lifecycle of plastics from linear to circular, so that the many benefits of plastic can continue to be enjoyed by everyone, without polluting our planet.

Momentum to bring about this shift has been building for some time, with many organisations from across the business community and civil society coming together to develop ambitious solutions to tackle the problem. The Everminds™ platform forms a part of this landscape, bringing together stakeholders from across the plastics value chain to accelerate action.

Through the voluntary agreements, technical innovations and increased awareness that have resulted from this work, inspirational progress has been made, strengthening belief in the achievability of a fully circular economy for plastics — yet, there is a general recognition that these efforts don’t go far enough.

A global solution to meet a global challenge

The plastic pollution crisis has complex causes, spanning a wide range of economic sectors and geographical areas. It’s a global problem, which needs a global solution.

To bring about systemic change, we need a strategy that is driven by local, national and international policy expertise, informed by knowledge and insights from science, businesses and NGOs, and backed by legislative bodies with the power to develop and enact binding regulation.

A once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle plastic pollution

The proposed UN Global Treaty to End Plastics Pollution is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle the plastic pollution crisis in a globally coordinated way — to align the international community behind a legally-binding vision of a circular economy. At Borealis, we have been passionate about this mission from day one: in 2018, as part of The Global Commitment led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme, we pledged to sell 350 kilotonnes of post-consumer recycled plastics per year by 2025, and in 2021 we became early signatories to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WWF’s call for a UN treaty to address plastic pollution.

Strengthening the treaty through the amplified voice of the business community

Now, we’re proud to join the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty, convened by the EMF and the WWF. Made up of over 80 organisations, including businesses from across the plastics value chain, financial institutions and NGOs, the Coalition has aligned on a shared vision, which sees the treaty as the key policy mechanism to accelerate progress to a circular economy and end plastic pollution.

The Coalition will work to strengthen the treaty through developing ambitious policy recommendations, engaging with treaty negotiators, and advocating within the wider business community, helping spread confidence in the value of the treaty to set a level playing field and prevent a patchwork of disconnected solutions, as well as emphasising the overall urgency of the situation.

The shared ambition is to ensure that progress is accelerated in three critical areas:

  1. REDUCTION of plastic production and use through a circular economy approach, focusing on those plastics that have high-leakage rates, are short-lived, and/or are made using fossil-based virgin resources

  2. CIRCULATION of all plastic items that cannot be eliminated, keeping them in the economy at their highest value

  3. PREVENTION and REMEDIATION of remaining, hard-to-abate micro- and macro-plastic leakage into the environment [1].

At Borealis, we’re committed to supporting and amplifying the Coalition’s efforts in each of these areas, as well as to doing all we can to drive progress ourselves. Our circular cascade shows how we’re combining a holistic view of the plastics lifecycle with breakthrough technologies to advance circularity and continually reduce the share of plastics that are made from fossil fuels.

Our Borcycle™, Borvida™ and the Bornewables™ ranges already offer circular products from biomass, and mechanically and chemically recycled feedstock. We’ve also recently made significant investments in new recycling technologies, including designing a first-of-its-kind commercial-scale advanced mechanical recycling plant based on Borcycle™ M technology; by 2025, the plant will have capacity to produce over 60 kilotonnes of advanced mechanically recycled polyolefin solutions and compounds per year.

“Our shared vision is for an uncompromisingly ambitious, effective treaty to end plastic pollution for good.”

The UN treaty is expected to be finalised by 2024. Over the next two years we will be working tirelessly alongside the other Coalition supporters to realise our shared global vision for an ambitious, effective and legally binding treaty that is capable of ending plastic pollution for good. We look forward to working with many of our value chain partners at the first negotiations in Uruguay.

None of us can solve these challenges alone, and so we encourage more businesses from across the value chain to endorse the shared vision of the Coalition. Together, we can end plastic pollution.

Any thoughts or questions about the circularity of plastics? Then please leave your comments below and one of our colleagues will get back to you.

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