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The need for a global strategy
As plastic pollution increases, researchers are finding plastic in our food chain, our water supply and the air we breathe. Only about 9% of all plastics are recycled, so the only solution to the problem is curbing plastic production in the first place.
Developing an enforceable global treaty that sets standards can make a huge impact. At the Nairobi United Nations Environmental Assembly on March 2, 2022, 175 countries agreed to initiate a legally binding instrument to address the full life cycle of plastic globally by 2024.
Our congregation is heartened by this major breakthrough. Patty Johnson, CSJ of the Congregational Leadership Team stated, “This momentum comes at a critical time. Addressing the full life cycle of plastic in meaningful ways will allow us to reduce plastic pollution as a global community. A systemic solution is needed. Working together, the countries of the world can put forth meaningful legislative solutions that will force the needed changes and lead to decreased threats to our health and environmental sustainability of our planet.”
The countries in which we serve have taken a major role in pushing this resolution forward. Peru, where we have served since 1962, co-wrote the draft resolution that the environmental assembly passed. Chile, where we have the Familia de San José associate community, co-sponsored the draft resolution. Japan, where we have served since 1956 endorsed the draft resolution. The United States, where we have served since 1836, voted approval for the resolution.
For the next two and a half years, we will advocate for a strong internationally binding instrument and encourage our countries to continue to support this work, along with our other efforts to reduce single-use plastics. Please join our efforts during this Plastic Free July.
Take action with us
We encourage everyone to contact their UN Permanent Representative to urge them to support the Global Plastic Free Treaty. Those in the United States can use the form below to sign on to a petition that will be sent to the U.S. representative. If you are in Japan, Peru or Chile, use our Japanese- or Spanish-language tools.
We, the undersigned, are proud of the role that the United States of America has taken in Nairobi at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5). The resolution that passed at the UNEA-5 establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which will begin its work in 2022 and create a draft agreement by the end of 2024. There is hope that a legally-binding agreement will address the full life cycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.
We urge our country to continue to address this global problem. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that the United States is “stepping up our efforts to tackle another pollutant that threatens our planet, plastic, by announcing [its] support for multilateral negotiations on a global agreement to combat ocean plastic pollution.”
We urge the United States to fully support efforts to address the full life cycle of plastic in this agreement. We assume there will be efforts by petrochemical industry groups to void or weaken the UNEA-5 resolution, but the final treaty agreement will need to regulate not just plastic waste collection and recycling, but also the design and production of plastics. We strongly advocate that this treaty minimizes plastic pollution at every stage of the plastic life cycle and urge this to be the stance of the United States.
We will continue to reduce our consumption of plastics, especially single-use plastics, and call upon places where we shop and large corporations of products we use to change their packaging. However, we know that a systemic solution is the only way to address this problem and reduce the harm to our environment. We stand ready to support our country’s efforts in crafting and advocating for this important treaty.