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Primary Plastic Polymers: Urgently needed upstream reduction

Policy brief titled 'Primary Plastic Polymers: Urgently needed upstream reduction' with a logo of the Scientists' Coalition in the top right. Text discusses the urgency of reducing primary plastic polymer production, predicting at least 20,000 million metric tons by 2040. A graph shows cumulative plastic production from 1950 to 2040, highlighting significant increases even with a proposed reduction rate of 2.35% annually.

© Scientists' Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty 2024


Primary Plastic Polymers: Urgently needed upstream reduction


Scientists' Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty (2024). Primary Plastic Polymers: urgently needed Upstream Reduction. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.10906376

As the international community seeks to negotiate a global plastics agreement, the stakes are high. An internationally binding instrument is to be developed that will end plastic pollution by covering the entire life cycle of plastics from production to disposal. With the goal of concluding negotiations by the end of 2024, the upcoming discussions represent a critical moment to take comprehensive and effective action against one of the most pressing environmental crises of our time.

Amidst intense global efforts to tackle plastic pollution, the Scientists' Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty highlights the critical role of reducing primary plastic polymers. This coalition, consisting of leading scientists worldwide, argues in its latest policy brief that without a significant reduction in the production of these polymers, the effective fight against plastic pollution is not possible. The urgent call aims to draw attention to the need to break the plastic cycle at its source - the production of primary plastic polymers. This approach is crucial as it directly reduces the amount of plastics that end up in our environment.

Global challenges and the role of primary plastic polymers

The production of primary plastic polymers is a key driver of the global plastics crisis. Forecasts indicate that over 20,000 million tons of plastics could be produced by 2040 if no drastic measures are taken. The Scientists' Coalition report makes it clear that existing waste management and circular economy measures are not enough to effectively control rising production rates. The Coalition therefore calls for global aggregated reduction targets for the production of these polymers in order to achieve a sustainable reduction in the environmental impact of plastics.

Strategies for reduction and the call for international cooperation

To effectively tackle the challenges of plastic pollution, the Scientists' Coalition proposes setting binding national and global reduction targets and increasing transparency in the production and use of primary plastic polymers. This also includes stricter regulation and simplification of the production and trade of these materials. By establishing a robust, evidence-based and conflict-free policy framework, supported by transparent monitoring and reporting, a sustainable reduction in primary plastic polymer production should be achieved. These measures are crucial to tackle the main source of plastic pollution and thus make a significant contribution to global environmental protection.

Binding national and global reduction targets are needed and transparency in the production and use of primary plastic polymers must be increased.


Doris Knoblauch
Co-Coordinator Plastics
Coordinator Urban & Spatial Governance
Senior Fellow

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Authors (in alphabetical order):

Juan-José Álava (University of British Columbia, Canada), Tadele Assefa-Aragaw (Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia), Denis Bailly (Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France), Jill Bartolotta (The Ohio State University, US), Juan Baztan (Versailles SQY University, France), Melanie Bergmann (Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Germany), Bethanie Carney-Almroth (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), Arturo Castillo (Utrecht University, Netherlands), Terrence Collins (Carnegie Mellon University, US), Mateo Cordier (Versailles SQY University, France), Francesca De-Falco (University of Plymouth, UK), Megan Deeney (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK), Trisia Farrelly (Massey University, New Zealand), Marina Fernandez (Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental, Argentina), Sarah Gall (University of Plymouth, UK), Tom Gammage (James Cook University, Australia), Jean-François Ghiglione (CNRS, Sorbonne University, France), Sedat Gündoğdu (Çukurova University, Turkey), Teis Hansen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Ibrahim Issifu (The University of British Columbia, Canada), Bethany Jorgensen (Cornell University), Doris Knoblauch (Ecologic Institute, Germany), Karin Kvale (GNS Science, New Zealand), Baptiste Monsaingeon (University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, France), Sangcheol Moon (University of California, Berkeley, US), Carmen Morales-Caselles (Cádiz University, Spain), Jane Muncke (Food Packaging Forum Foundation, Switzerland), Tara Olsen (Lund University, Sweden), Stephanie Reynaud (Pau University, France), Andrés Rodríguez-Seijo (Vigo University, Spain), Peter Stoett (University of Ontario, Canada), Kristian Syberg (Roskilde University, Denmark), Richard Thompson (University of Plymouth, UK), Rufino Varea (University of the South Pacific, Fiji), Costas Velis (University of Leeds, UK), Patricia Villarrubia-Gómez (Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden) and Martin Wagner (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway).

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4 pp.
Project ID
Primary plastic polymers, plastic pollution, reduction of plastic production, global environmental agreements, environmental protection, sustainable plastic strategies, international negotiations, UNEA resolution, plastic cycle, scientific coalition, effective plastic treaty, plastic production transparency, regulation of plastics, environmental awareness, resource conservation