Unpacking reuse in the global plastic pollution treaty

Posted on May, 02 2024

A WWF report highlights the five most promising product groups for reuse and gives guidance on how reuse can effectively be integrated into the upcoming global plastic pollution treaty, unfolding its full potential in ending plastic pollution.

In 2022, UN member states agreed to begin negotiations for a new global treaty aimed at ending plastic pollution. This treaty, set to be finished by the end of 2024, will contain a range of measures designed to tackle the various issues stemming from our overuse, overproduction and mismanagement of plastic products. 


Preventing plastic pollution isn’t just a waste management issue – it requires a range of solutions across the whole product life cycle, from bans and phase-outs, to product and material redesign, to recycling and responsible waste management. A key area of opportunity is to promote reuse, and particularly a transition from single-use to reusable products. 


Reuse has the potential to reduce overall material use, as one reusable item can substitute for multiple single-use items. It can also reduce the leakage of plastic into the environment – both because fewer items are in circulation, and because businesses and consumers have a direct incentive to responsibly return those items into reuse systems. In addition, reuse offers environmental co-benefits, most notably in terms of potential emissions savings. 


Identifying the most promising reuse applications, and the ways in which a global treaty can facilitate positive systemic change, is the purpose of this report.


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Sulawesi black macaque / Celebes crested macaque (Macaca nigra) drinking from plastic bottle washed up on the beach, Tangkoko National Park, northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Critically endangered.
© © Nick Garbutt / naturepl.com / WWF