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Plastic pollution: A Global Problem Demanding Global Solutions

Ending plastic pollution

In 2022, an art exhibit of a giant tap spewing plastic greeted delegates in Nairobi attending the United Nations Environment Assembly. What the following hours, days and long nights of negotiations produced was historic: a resolution to end plastic pollution and form an international legally binding agreement.

Find out more about the historic resolution

Negotiating for conensus on how to #BeatPlasticPollution

Fast forward to May 2023, where a second round of discussions of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-2), took place in Paris, France from May 29th - June 2nd. Delegates from around the world discussed the nuts and bolts of what an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution may actually look like.

See what leaders came up with in Paris

Turning off the Tap: How the world can end plastic pollution and create a circular economy

On the eve of the second round of negotiations on a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, UNEP published a flagship report. It is solutions-focused, offering concrete practices, market shifts and policies. It aims to strengthen the understanding of the magnitude and nature of the change required in the plastics economy to achieve this goal.

Check out the full Report

Solutions from the One Planet network to curb plastic pollution

The One Planet Network has taken the occasion to compile a compendium of solutions to help put some of the pathways of the flagship UNEP publication into practice.

Global labelling schemes, innovative communication campaigns, committments from across the tourism sector, and much more.

Take a look below to see how the One Planet Network programmes are mobilizing action to address plastic pollution and push towards real market transformation

Find out more

Addressing the use of plastic packaging across the One Planet network

Following the principles of a circular economy for plastics, programmes of the One Planet network asked partners to formulate priority recommendations under three areas at the use stage

Sectoral engagement: Global Tourism Plastics Initiative

Uniting the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution > GTPI home page

Behavioral change: communication & nudging

Mapping of campaigns aimed at eliminating or changing type of plastic packaging > Reducing Plastic Pollution: Campaigns That Work


providing reliable and quality information to consumers

The core function of labels and claims on plastic packaging should be to provide reliable, relevant, clear, transparent and accessible information. In doing so, they can empower consumers − individuals, businesses and governments − to be active partners in the transition to more sustainable consumption and production patterns and a circular economy.

The Consumer Information programme has developed key resources to map and assess standards, labels and claims on plastic packaging, and provide concrete recommendations


The “Can I Recycle This?” A Global Mapping and Assessment of Standards, Labels and Claims on Plastic Packaging report is...


The “Can I Recycle This?” A Global Mapping and Assessment of Standards, Labels and Claims on Plastic Packaging report is...


The “Can I Recycle This?” A Global Mapping and Assessment of Standards, Labels and Claims on Plastic Packaging report is...

governments leading by example and steering market transformation through public procurement

Public procurement represents an average of 12% of gross domestic product (GDP) in countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - often between 25% and 30% of GDP in developing countries - and around 30% of total government expenditure.

If used strategically, it is a particularly important lever in driving forward sustainable consumption and production, accelerating the transition to a circular economy and encouraging behaviour change, innovation and performance improvement through supply chains and in purchasing organizations.

engaging households and consumers in the fight against plastic packaging pollution

Campaigns by governments and intergovernmental organizations, non-profit groups, foundations and business have contributed to increased awareness and action on plastic pollution. Beyond awareness, however, campaigns are a mechanism for influencing individual choice and behaviour by playing an important role in the shift towards more sustainable consumption and production. It is therefore essential to develop an informed understanding of the role they can play in changing mindsets to identify strategies that are effective in turning awareness and concern into behaviour change.

To this effect, the Sustainable Lifestyles and Education programme carried out a global mapping and assessment of plastic pollution campaigns targeting individuals.

The Sustainable Lifestyles and Eductation Programme also looking at nudging - non-restrictive interventions that alter the environment to make it easier for citizens to make “better” decisions - as a complement to traditional policies to reduce the use of plastics.


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


Globally, over 500 billion single-use cups are consumed annually of which between 250-300 billion are plastic-lined paper...


This playbook is the culmination of three years of work with the Sustainable Lifestyles and Education (SLE) Programme of the...

engaging key sectors and industries against plastic pollution: tourism

With 80% of all tourism taking place in coastal areas, plastic pollution from tourism can easily end up in oceans and waterways. Much of the plastic used in the sector is made to be thrown away and often cannot be recycled. Operationally speaking, plastic is lightweight, cheap, readily available and convenient for both employees and customers in the tourism sector.

Considering the interaction between industries with different characteristics, the interrelationships between the tourism value chain and many other sectoral value chains (such as food, building, construction, furniture and so on), and the complexity of plastic pollution management within operations, a systemic approach and global coordination efforts are required to tackle the plastics pollution challenge in the sector.

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative

To mobilize all actors across the tourism value chain towards in joint actions against plastic pollution, the Sustainable Tourism programme launched the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative (GTPI), led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF).

The initiative is being implemented within the framework of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme and with support of the Government of France. The GTPI acts as the tourism sector interface of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

The GTPI requires tourism organizations to make a set of concrete and actionable commitments by 2025:


How the GTPI is supporting more than 100 Signatories

Curated resources and tools related to a circular economy of plastics in the tourism sector. Database resources include recommendations from the Consumer Information and Sustainable Lifestyles and Education on labels, certifications and communication campaigns

Consultative development of recommendations and guidance on key topics identified by signatories such as life-cycle approach, measurement and monitoring and sustainable procurement



It aims to educate tourism stakeholders and provide evidence-based guidance for decision-making to address pollution from...



The Tools help to generate the following GTPI performance metrics: (i) annual total weight of plastics (metric tonnes), (ii)...


New Guidance for Procurement Practitioners in Tourism sector.

The way forward

It is widely acknowledged that the current linear production, use and disposal model of the plastic industry is not sustainable. To solve this problem at source, there is a need for a fundamental shift to a circular economy model where plastics are kept within the economy at their highest possible value. Such a shift requires key interventions across all stages of the plastic value chain, with upstream and downstream solutions jointly deployed. If acted upon, these intervention points present the greatest opportunities for improvement.

  • Providing clear and reliable sustainability information based on life-cycle thinking and promoting credible labelling standards so that consumers are aware of more sustainable choices.
  • Increasing consumer awareness through targeted and effective consumer campaigns to trigger behaviour change.
  • Setting up sustainable public procurement policies to support reusable.

Tools, expertise and solutions are available across the One Planet network to implement these interventions. There is an opportunity to build on ongoing initiatives of its programmes, and to capitalize on its multistakeholder network to mobilize action, define concerted action and efficiently deliver concrete outputs to address plastic pollution.