Historic step to end plastic pollution

WECF and partners herald the resolution adopted by all Governments of the world at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, on the 2nd of March 2022, to “End Plastic Pollution” through a legally binding global treaty.

Why is this important for women’s rights and environmental defenders?

HEALTH Plastic waste when it is burned generates toxic emissions that can lead to cancers, such as breast cancer, as it will emit POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) such as dioxines and furans.

Plastic does not just disappear, it breaks down in smaller pieces till it are microplastics that enter into water, soil, plants, fish, meat and finally, in humans. Children are born with microplastic pollution in their bodies, of which the long-term health effects are unknown.

POLLUTION Plastic pollutions clogs rivers, lakes and oceans, where it suffocates the environment and continues to spread harmful chemicals such as endocrine-disrupting substances. Synthetic plastics are made from oil, fossil fuels, exactly that what we want to phase out because of the climate crisis.

Why is it important to have a global legally binding agreement?

FALSE PROMISES For several decades promises have been made that producers of products that use plastics would apply an extended-producer-responsibility and ensure that their plastics would be taken back and not pollute the environment. Other promises were that plastics could be fully recycled, so called chemical-recycling, which finally is just another way of incineration, not at all sustainable. There is no recycling of plastics possible, only down-cycling, turning plastic waste into low-grade items that cannot be recycled themselves.

The plastic industry in planning a 400% increase in production till 2050, contributing 10-13% of global climate damaging emissions! Therefore, the only way to end plastic pollution, is to have a legally binding treaty that will force a transition to environmentally sustainable alternatives, and that takes the pollution throughout all of the life-cycle of plastics into account, from production to disposal.

Don’t recycle toxics. Most importantly, toxic chemicals that are added to plastics, such as plasticizers, can contain hormone-disrupting chemicals and should absolutely not be ‘recycled’ into lower quality products that in the end will end up in the food chain and impact our health.

The biggest international agreement since the Paris Agreement on Climate

The resolution adopted at UNEP in Nairobi is the first step of several years of negotiations that will now commence.

The resolution adopted in Nairobi, provides a good starting point as it:

  • covers ALL plastic pollution in all environments (not just in oceans)
  • covers ALL the life-cycle from production to waste of plastics
  • will have a financial and technical component to support global South countries
  • has an open mandate that can include issues of concern such as climate, health and gender equality considerations

The resolution would not have been possible without the constant participation of environmental activities, feminist activists and impacted groups such as the waste pickers communities. It is very important that the role of waste pickers, and a just transition, is anchored in the resolution. We, along with thousands of other organisations and citizens, signed up to the petitions to push governments to pass the resolution. The coming years will be crucial, as the plastics and oil industries are trying to sell their false solution and influence governments to agree on a weak global treaty.


UNEA Plastic resolution
Plastics in placenta
Climate impact of plastics
Break Free From Plastics
Plastic production increase
Role of waste pickers
False promises
Health impacts plastics
Plastic is Carbon
Do not burn plastics

You can find the text of the UNEA resolution here. 

Our own publication, a literature study on Plastics, Gender and the Environment, can be downloaded here