WTO reviews plastic recycling standards, removes trade barriers
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has revealed that it is considering policies such as plastic recycling standards and the removal of trade barriers as ways to tackle plastic pollution.
Speaking at the Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution, WTO Deputy Director General Jean-Marie Paugam listed specific policy tools that could be used to reduce plastic pollution from trade.
- lower trade barriers to environmental goods and services necessary for the circularity of plastics
- work on the standards and regulations necessary to ensure recyclability and compostability
- facilitate capacity building for more circular supply chains
- explore the economic drivers of more sustainable plastics and alternatives to plastics, including the topic of harmful subsidies.
Jean-Marie Paugam added: “It is increasingly recognized that the way we produce, consume and dispose of plastics causes significant damage to our environment and to our health. The build-up of plastic pollution in the environment puts at risk the ocean and land resources on which so many our communities depend for their livelihoods.
“Therefore, many of our members consider it essential to move towards a more circular and sustainable economy and that such an effort should include trade and trade in plastics as a component.
“This growing recognition has already given rise to initiatives and actions. In November last year, a group of WTO members launched an informal dialogue on plastic pollution and trade in environmentally friendly plastics – or IDP. Since that launch, discussions on the subject have more than quadrupled at the WTO, seeking to identify key opportunities for enhanced trade cooperation to support national, regional and global efforts against plastic pollution.
“Participants in this dialogue discuss several aspects of how trade intersects with the challenge of plastic pollution, from the ‘hidden flows’ of trade in ‘integrated plastics’ to concrete business opportunities for sustainable plastic alternatives and secondary raw materials. ”
The Ministries of Environment of Germany, Ghana, Ecuador and Vietnam are convening the high-level meeting in preparation for the 5th United Nations Environment Assembly next year.