The world has a once-in-a-generation chance to profoundly change humanity’s relationship with plastic. That is the message from officials ahead of “pivotal” talks next week on a legally binding global instrument to end plastic pollution.

Delegates from 174 countries are expected to gather in the Canadian capital of Ottawa for the latest round of discussions on the instrument. The gathering, formally known as the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-4), will run from April 23 to 29. It is the penultimate meeting before negotiations are expected to conclude later this year.

“Both people and the planet are suffering profoundly from the effects of plastic pollution,” said Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, Executive Secretary of the INC. “This negotiating session is pivotal. It is an opportunity to make significant progress for a robust agreement that would allow future generations to live in a world free of plastic pollution.”

The negotiations come amid what experts have called a mounting plastic crisis.

Since the 1950s, 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced, of which 7 billion tonnes have become waste, filling up landfills and polluting lakes, rivers, the soil and the ocean.

Humanity now produces 430 million tonnes of plastic each year, two-thirds of which is contained in short-lived products which soon become waste. Some of that plastic winds up in the food chain, where it has the potential to harm human health.

The goal during INC-4 is to advance a draft text of the global instrument so it can be finalized in Busan, Republic of Korea in December. The talks so far have focused on reducing pollution during the entire life-cycle of plastics, from their design to their disposal.

More details: here.

There is an excellent link to their page, ‘Our planet is choking in plastic’, which shows where the plastic is coming from and what we can do: here.