Let’s leave the era of plastics behind in 2024

Plastic threatens the environment, climate and puts human health at risk. Future generations should inherit a healthy planet.

We must tell companies and governments to stem the flow of plastics and address plastic pollution.

You can help us stand up to plastic polluters and use the power of the law to protect our planet for future generations.


Show your support for the Global Plastics Treaty

Plastic producers, with Big Oil behind them, are flooding our planet with unnecessary plastic.

But there is hope on the horizon: the Global Plastics Treaty is currently being negotiated by governments from around the world. Join people from across the world calling for a strong and legally-binding Treaty.

Add your name now and show your support before it's too late.

Plastics: Your questions answered

There's a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there about plastics, from their production to the very end: plastic pollution. So we've answered some of your most common questions about the plastic crisis and how we can start to fix it.

How much plastic is really recycled?

On a global level, only 9% of plastics are successfully recycled, and only 14% in the EU. The rest ends up in landfill, incinerated or in the environment.

That’s an incredibly low rate and that’s why recycling is only a limited solution to the plastics crisis. 

For example, even though PET beverage bottles are the “easiest to recycle” plastic, even in EU countries (which tend to have more sophisticated waste management systems) only 55% are recycled.

Doesn’t packaging reduce food waste?

Fruit and vegetables don’t need to be wrapped in plastic in order to avoid food waste. In fact, a recent investigation in the UK showed that plastic packaging appears to have little or no effect on the freshness of produce. 

To the contrary, selling loose produce has huge potential to reduce food waste in our homes. Buying more than is strictly necessary is what encourages food waste. Fruit and vegetables should therefore be sold individually. 

The investigation also recommends that date labels be removed from produce. Consumers often throw away food after the use by date while they are still safe to eat.

In addition, wrapping fruit and vegetables in plastic is a relatively new practice. We didn’t need food wrapped in plastic in the past and we don’t need it now. The fact that some supermarkets are bucking the trend and selling loose produce shows that food waste isn’t the issue. 

What are the alternatives to plastic? And how do we ensure that they are accessible to everyone?

Some plastic doesn’t need to be replaced as its use is unnecessary. For example, plastic packaging can be excessive or serve no purpose beyond marketing – a bunch of bananas wrapped in plastic, shrink-wrapped cucumbers, multipacks, etc. 

The least damaging packaging is one that can be used again and again i.e. reusable containers, refillable bottles and jars, metal tins, beeswax wraps, etc. 

In order to make it work at scale and make it accessible to everyone, industries and governments need to work collaboratively to rethink product design and shift to reusable/refillable packaging models.

Can there be legislation that heavily taxes any company producing unsustainable waste?

Yes, that’s the idea behind the term ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ (EPR). It’s a concept that basically says: “You make it, you take responsibility for it, even after it's been used.” EPR shifts the burden of dealing with waste from the consumer to the producer. It encourages companies to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their products throughout their entire life cycle, from production to disposal.

The European Union has adopted various directives and regulations that incorporate the principles of EPR into their waste management policies.

But the problem is that EPR systems rarely cover all the externalities that plastic really causes. 

For example, under the revolutionary EU Single-Use Plastics Directive, plastic producers must cover, under EPR systems, the following costs for some plastics items:

- The costs of the awareness raising measures about reusable alternatives and about the impact of incorrect waste disposal

- the costs of waste collection for those products that are discarded in public collection systems

- the costs of cleaning up litter resulting from those products.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t even start to cover all the damages that plastic does to the environment or people’s health (greenhouse gas emissions, microplastic contamination, chemical pollution, habitat degradation, economic costs on communities, etc.). According to Carbon Tracker, plastics impose a massive untaxed externality upon society estimated to be about $1,000 per tonne ($350bn a year) from carbon dioxide, health costs, collection costs, and ocean pollution.

Why car tyres (rubber) are counted towards plastic totals for ocean pollution? And related, why rubber is cited as an issue related to the oil and gas industry when its source is transport.

Plastics and tyres share a common origin – crude oil. And similar petrochemical processes are used for the production of both plastics and synthetic rubber. Therefore, tyres breakdown into microplastics due to wear and tear, which can then have the same devastating effects on our environment as any other source or microplastics. And it’s been shown that microplastics from tyres are a major source of ocean pollution

Additionally, tyres are a big source of air pollution. 

What are you doing about the fishing net and equipment that accounts for about half of the plastic in the ocean?

We want to reduce plastic pollution everywhere, including in the ocean. We also work on the just transition towards low carbon fishing. This involves using gears that are more selective and avoid fishing techniques that destroy the seabed (e.g. bottom trawling). 

How do you stop companies and countries sending plastic waste to developing countries?

The global trade in plastic waste has allowed high income, high-consuming countries to transfer the social and environmental costs of plastics to lower income countries with inadequate infrastructure to handle it. It’s cheaper to do that than invest in disposal infrastructure domestically. The long-term consequences to communities and disposal infrastructure in recipient countries are overly negative.  

We use various sorts of legal interventions to stop the excessive production and use of plastics, which in turn will reduce the amount of waste that is produced and the amount of waste that is exported. 

Will you donate today and help us fight plastic pollution?