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  • Writer's pictureAnnerieke Douma

The Global Plastics Treaty zero draft

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Defining the “how” of a just transition will be the crucial next step

Earlier this month, the zero draft text of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (commonly known as the Global Plastics Treaty), was released. The draft lays the foundations for the upcoming Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meeting (INC-3) in November.

Following the second INC in May 2023, questions remained for me about how we can ensure that there is real substance behind the collective call for a “just transition.” Specifically, how can policy instruments ensure that a fair, equitable, and inclusive transition is implemented for affected populations, with special consideration for women and vulnerable groups, including youth?

Importantly, this zero draft text provides greater substance and direction on what just transition policies should include. However, while this is promising, clear targets are yet to be set and it is still unknown how these should be implemented.

With more than 15 to 20 million informal waste workers responsible for nearly 60% of plastic waste recovery globally, these individuals are essential to efforts to tackle plastic pollution. It is encouraging to see that the informal waste sector is explicitly mentioned in the zero draft text, promising greater recognition, inclusion of their voices, and support for their integration into the value chain.

The text recommends that the just transition goals become part of national plans and refers to inclusive extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes as a mechanism through which these goals can be implemented. Specifically, it cites that a portion of the fees collected through EPR schemes should be used to improve the livelihoods and opportunities for workers in the waste sector.

As we head towards INC-3 in Nairobi this November, we must consider the specific operational and financial mechanisms of socially inclusive EPR schemes, to ensure these benefits reach the vulnerable communities for which they were intended.

The zero draft text refers to the role producers, recycling companies, and waste management companies are required to play in order to integrate plastics collected and sorted by informal workers into their operation schemes. My hope is that the financial and operational mechanisms, or clear and harmonized guidelines, will become part of the final text, so that they can be implemented and measured in a standardized manner.

To support this goal, The Circulate Initiative’s Responsible Sourcing Initiative is mobilizing stakeholders across the plastic waste value chain to ensure that plastic waste supply chains not only support recycled plastics but also safeguard human rights.

A multi-year program, the initiative will run pilot projects in India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Vietnam to implement solutions to address human rights issues in the plastic waste recycling value chain. Using a harmonized framework for implementation and evaluation, we will share findings to ensure we can replicate success in other markets.


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