85% of People Want Global Ban on Single-Use Plastics

An average of 85% of people polled worldwide believe a soon-to-be concluded global plastic pollution treaty should ban single-use plastics that now account for more than 70% of ocean plastic pollution, according to an Ipsos survey of more than 24,000 people in 32 countries commissioned by WWF and the Plastic Free Foundation.

A Greenpeace International study, also recently released, shows similarly overwhelming support for ending single-use plastics. These results come ahead of the fourth and penultimate plastic pollution treaty negotiations, taking place in Ottawa, Canada from April 23-29.

With more than 430 million tonnes of virgin plastic produced each year – 60% of which are single-use – and only 9% of that plastic currently recycled worldwide, a global ban on single-use plastics, deemed unnecessary, avoidable, and harmful, is one of several in a suite of urgent measures the public wants to see in the treaty.

Other highly favored bans include those on harmful chemicals used in plastic (which 90% supported) and plastic products that cannot be easily and safely recycled in the countries where they are used (87%).

In addition, the results reveal widespread understanding that bans alone are not enough to end the plastic pollution crisis – citizens polled worldwide also strongly support redesigning the current plastics system to ensure remaining plastics can be safely reused and recycled. In particular, measures such as mandating manufacturers invest in and provide reuse and refill systems polled 87% support while 72% support ensuring all countries have access to funding, technology and resources to enable a just transition.

“The severity of the plastic pollution crisis and the need for immediate global action is universally understood by individuals from every corner of the world,” said Erin Simon, Vice President and Head of Plastic Waste + Business at WWF-US. “As negotiators get to work on the next round of treaty talks, equipped with these survey results, the only path forward is one where countries agree to finally put an end to the visible and invisible impacts of plastic pollution. Now is the time for a legally binding treaty that delivers both what the people want, and what the planet desperately needs.”

These measures provide a clear pathway for reducing global plastic production, an outcome 87% of those polled worldwide in this study, as well as 82% of people polled in Greenpeace’s study, would like to see the global plastic pollution treaty achieve.

With very limited time left for negotiators to conclude a meaningful agreement – treaty negotiations are expected to close by the end of this year – countries must take immediate action to move the process forward decisively.

“Few ordinary citizens are involved in the negotiations for a global plastic pollution treaty despite living on the frontlines of the crisis. Yet the survey shows citizens have a high level of awareness, concern and engagement on what is needed to end plastic pollution, and are rejecting the toxic and unjust plastics ecosystem that’s been imposed on them through lax laws and profit-oriented businesses,” said Eirik Lindebjerg, Global Plastics Lead, WWF International. “Right now, we are at a crossroads. The upcoming negotiations in Ottawa will determine whether we get the treaty that was promised by the end of 2024, or not. We know from other environmental treaties that nothing less than binding global rules and obligations across the plastics value chain will halt the problem. Settling for anything less is indefensible. An overwhelming majority of countries have already called for the binding global rules needed – our leaders must now turn these calls into action.”

Results of the survey, which is Ipsos’s third round of public opinion polling on international action to address plastic pollution, reinforce and build upon the results of previous rounds of polling – in particular, they paint a consistent and compelling picture of citizens across the world united and unwavering in wanting their governments to abide by rules that are binding and applicable to all parties signed to the global plastic pollution treaty.

In the first survey, released a month before countries agreed to draft a global plastic pollution treaty in March 2022, results showed that a global average of nearly nine out of 10 people believed having a global plastic pollution treaty is important to end plastic pollution.

The second survey, released ahead of the first round of treaty negotiations in December 2022, highlighted strong international support for global rules that should be included in the treaty such as holding plastic producers responsible for reducing waste and plastic pollution from their products (78%) and banning single-use plastics (75%).

The third and latest survey results build on those findings, showing overwhelming support for rules that demand governments radically transform the global plastics economy, such as reducing the amount of plastic produced globally by banning harmful, avoidable plastics while ensuring remaining plastics can be safely reused and recycled.

“The survey findings show that public opinion squarely backs a profound transformation of our relationship with plastics. But as public support builds for a strong and binding global plastic pollution treaty, we are seeing a small minority of governments trying to move in the opposite direction, demanding an opt-in approach rather than a set of fair and consistent rules. This is out of step with both global public expectations and evidence that strong and legally binding rules are the only way to reverse this global problem,” said Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Founder and Executive Director, Plastic Free July and the Plastic Free Foundation.

WWF and the Plastic Free Foundation urge governments to get agreement on binding global rules that phase out, if not immediately ban, the most harmful substances and products; design global product requirements that ensure remaining plastic products can be easily reused and recycled; and put in place strong financial mechanisms to support a just transition.

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