High Hopes for Agreement on Global Plastics Treaty 

Investors call on governments to “turn the tide” on single-use plastics by making voluntary disclosures mandatory.

An agreement on mandatory reporting on plastic production, importing and exporting should be adopted by member states at this week’s International Negotiating Committee (INC-3) on a global plastics pollution treaty, non-profit disclosure platform CDP told ESG Investor.   

Negotiators are gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, in the third round of talks – scheduled from 13 to 19 November – to forge a legally binding global instrument to end plastic pollution.   

Humanity produces around 430 million tonnes of plastic every year, two-thirds of which quickly becomes waste. Much of that ends up polluting land, sea and air while increasingly working its way into the human food chain.  

At INC-3, negotiators are discussing an initial zero draft agreed In June at INC-2 in Paris, where more than 165 countries supported its development.  

Plastic disclosure requirements 

Speaking to ESG Investor, Oliver Tanqueray, Associate Director, Ocean Health at CDP, said it was pleased to see in the zero draft that there’s an option for a “transversal and reasonably comprehensive requirements for disclosure” on production, imports and exports of plastic polymers and products.  

“We’re encouraging member states to support this,” he said, adding that CDP had amendments it would like to see in this respect, including disclosure applying to all actors in a company’s supply chain.  

“It’s important for investors and policymakers to have transparency right through the supply chain,” he said.  

“We’re advocating for it to include plastic-related risks, opportunities, dependencies and impacts, because we think they’re important parts of the high-quality disclosure.”  

Tanqueray , who is on the ground in Nairobi for the talks, added that it would also like to see requirements for national reporting on plastics mirror that of requirements from corporates.  

“At the moment, there’s a difference in the zero draft between what nations are being expected to report compared to companies and it’s important that they match each other to build up a comprehensive, comparative dataset to redirect financial flows away from sources of plastic pollution and waste,” he noted. 

Voluntary limitations 

More than 3,000 companies with over US$31 trillion in market capitalisation, have disclosed information on their production and use of plastics for the first time through the CDP platform this year.  

While Tanqueray acknowledged that this figure represents a “really high disclosure rate” for a first year, he admittted that there are limits to what can be achieved through voluntary disclosure.  

“That’s why we’re here to ask for mandatory corporate disclosure,” he said.  

In response, CDP have led an open letter to governments from 48 financial institutions with a combined total of US$3.5 trillion, requesting mandatory corporate disclosure of plastics to be included as part of the Global Plastics Treaty.  

Meanwhile, an international coalition of nearly 30 institutional investors with US$10 trillion in AUM led by the Dutch Association of Sustainable Investors (VBDO) have called on governments for strong action on tackling single-use plastic. 

Tessa Younger, Stewardship Lead Environment at CCLA Investment Management, a signatory to the letter, said: ‘It is by now abundantly clear that we will not be able to turn the tide on the climate, pollution, and societal impacts of growing volumes of plastics produced without taking action at source. We, therefore, emphasise the importance of including upstream measures addressing plastic pollution in the Treaty to reduce plastic pollution at source and achieve climate goals.’ 

According to Reuters, there are currently tough negotiations over whether to limit the amount of plastic being produced or just to focus on the management of waste, with the European Union and others wanting a strong treaty with “binding provisions” on reducing virgin plastic polymers derived from petrochemicals and problematic plastics, like PVC. In contrast petrochemical exports like Saudi Arabia, want to see plastic use continue and for the treaty of focus on recycling and reusing plastic.  

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