Ipsos survey: 85% of people want global ban on single-use plastics

Posted on April, 11 2024

  • Latest Ipsos poll on what should be in a soon-to-be concluded global plastic pollution treaty shows unequivocal public support for banning harmful and unnecessary plastic products worldwide, with as high as 85% calling for a ban on single-use plastics and 90% for a ban on hazardous chemicals used in plastics. 
  • Such bans can provide a pathway for reducing global plastic production, which 87% of the over 24,000 people polled in 32 countries support.
  • The results paint a picture of consistent and unwavering calls from citizens across all regions for strong and legally-binding global rules that can cut plastic pollution by prioritising measures that ban harmful, avoidable plastics and which ensure the plastics we do use can be safely reused and recycled.

GLAND, Switzerland (11 April 2024) - 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 released this week, 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 23-29 April.


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-favoured 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. 


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 International’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 results stand in sharp contrast to the continued efforts of low-ambition demands from a group of oil-producing countries bent on weakening and shifting the goal posts of the UNEA 5 mandate, agreed in March 2022 by 175 countries, to create the world’s first international and legally binding treaty aimed at ending plastic pollution. 


During the final hours of the last negotiating session in Nairobi in November 2023, these countries ground negotiations to a halt by demanding the treaty put in place voluntary rules that focus only on waste management rather than the full life cycle of plastic.


“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


Going into the fourth and penultimate round of negotiations in April 2024 of the global plastic pollution treaty, governments have the opportunity to reclaim the ambition they showed at UNEA 5 by putting negotiations back on track. This means standing up to the small number bent on blocking efforts to tackle global plastic pollution and being firmly behind an international treaty with legally binding rules.


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.


“We need governments to heed the growing call from their constituents and reject the demands of a few countries brandishing false solutions that only seek to benefit them financially but lead us to a weak, watered down treaty that does little to stop the growing wave of global plastic pollution. Governments must remember they promised a treaty that ends plastic pollution. Now they must deliver,” added Prince-Ruiz.


For further information, please contact news@wwfint.org

Notes to Editors

The following resources (embargoed until 11 April 2024 at 00:01 GMT) can be found here:

  1. Full findings of the global survey (Ipsos global report)
  2. Analysis of the survey findings (Rising Tides III)
  3. What to look out for at INC-4 and WWF’s recommendations for clinching a robust and strong global plastic pollution treaty (INC-4: Time to speed up priorities)

Summary of Ipsos survey’s key findings:

  • More than 24,000 people polled in 32 countries showed overwhelming support for measures that correspond to the following three key asks governments should include in the global plastic pollution treaty:
  1. Global bans on the most harmful and avoidable high-risk plastic products and chemicals:
  • How important do you believe it is to have global rules to ban unnecessary single-use plastic products, e.g. shopping bags, cutlery, cups & plates (85%)
  • How important do you believe it is to have global rules to ban chemicals used in plastic that are hazardous to human health and the environment (90%)
  • How important do you believe it is to have global rules to ban types of plastic that cannot be easily recycled in all of the countries where they are used (87%)
  1. Global product design requirements that ensures the remaining products can be easily and safely reused and recycled:
  • How important do you believe it is to have global rules to require manufacturers and retailers to provide reuse and refill systems (87%)
  • How important do you believe it is to have global rules to require new plastic products and packaging to contain recycled plastic (86%)
  • How important do you believe it is to have global rules to require labelling of plastic products so it’s clear how to responsibly sort for reuse, recycling or disposal (88%)
  1. Strong financial mechanism to support a just transition, particularly in the global south:
  • How important do you believe it is to have global rules to require all plastic manufacturing to pay a fee that goes towards increasing reuse, recycling and safe management of waste (84%)
  • To what extent do you agree that these rules should require manufacturers and retailers to contribute to the cost of reducing waste and ending plastic pollution (73%)
  • To what extent do you agree that these rules should ensure all participating countries have access to funding, technology and other resources to comply with the rules (72%)
  • Support for robust rules is consistently higher across regions that are experiencing the worst effects of the global plastic pollution crisis:
    • Support for the rules listed in the survey was highest in Latin America (88-92%) and the African countries surveyed (86-92%) vs the global averages of 85-90%.
    • However, support across the South-East Asian region (83-88%) and North America (76-86%) is still significant.
    • In 12 countries, support for the rules listed scored consistently at or above the global average. These countries are Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Uganda.  
    • Support for a robust and just financial system that can fund measures for stemming plastic pollution was far greater in many low- and middle-income countries - Nigerian citizens were most outspoken on the need for adequate financial and technological support (91%), followed by Uganda (89%), Indonesia (84%) and South Africa (82%).

About WWF
WWF is an independent conservation organisation, with over 30 million followers and a global network active in nearly 100 countries. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources; follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.

About Plastic Free Foundation
Plastic Free Foundation is a not-for-profit global social movement that stops around 300 million kgs of plastic polluting the world each year. With our Plastic Free July challenge and sharing of plastic free behaviours, we help people and their organisations and governments to contribute to a world without plastic waste. An estimated 140 million participants from 190 countries take part in Plastic Free July each year. Visit www.plasticfreefoundation.net for more information.

About Ipsos
Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees.