Global survey shows 7 out of 10 support global rules to end plastic pollution

Posted on 23 November 2022

An IPSOS survey, comissioned by WWF and Plastic Free Foundation, has polled of over 20,000 people from across 34 countries. The survey shows overwhelming support for world’s first ever plastic treaty to create binding global rules that apply to all countries rather than a voluntary global agreement where governments can choose whether or not to take action.
While some countries are advocating for less binding approaches, this research shows very little support for voluntary arrangements, with an average of only 14% of people thinking this is preferable. The large majority of citizens want to see a comprehensive set of measures included in the treaty: nearly 8 in 10 support rules for making producers more responsible for the plastic they generate, bans on difficult-to-recycle plastics, and labelling requirements.
The survey, which polled 23,029 respondents online, is the first body of research to explicitly ask citizens from around the world about what a global treaty to address plastic consumption and pollution should look like, and what particular rules people think are important or unimportant.

A once-in-a-generation opportunity

Negotiations for this treaty are set to take place in a series of Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meetings, with the first starting in Uruguay on 28 November, and the treaty’s negotiations are expected to be concluded by 2024.

During the two-year negotiation period alone, the total amount of plastic pollution in the ocean is tipped to increase by 15%. Currently, more than 2,000 animal species have encountered plastic pollution in their environment, and nearly 90% of studied species are known to be negatively affected. Failure by negotiators to agree on an ambitious treaty will continue the trend of ineffective government responses to the global plastic pollution problem which has seen the crisis spiral out of control over the last decade.
To help UN policy makers make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity, WWF has also published a report identifying the key mechanisms needed to unlock systemic change across the global plastics economy. The report details why binding global rules - rather than the current mixture of voluntary national approaches - are needed to drive systemic change at the speed and scale that can stop the surge of plastic waste doing further damage to the economy, the environment, and human health.

In particular, the treaty must establish concrete measures, including global product and material bans, mandatory requirements for design, labelling and information-sharing to facilitate a circular economy, and improvements in collection and waste management. For the world to make any meaningful progress in reducing global plastic waste, these measures must be designed to reduce plastic pollution at source by banning the most harmful and problematic types of single-use plastics, fishing gear, and microplastics.

Learn more about the plastic pollution treaty here.
Publication cover page. Platsic pollution on beach
© Silke Stuckenbrock / WWF-Australia