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Global Plastics Treaty’s Call for Data Should Guide Action

by Keefe Harrison, CEO, The Recycling Partnership

As the UN member states wrap up the first Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee session of the Global Plastics Treaty, the pressure to deliver a legally binding instrument that will reverse the current global plastics waste emergency remains high.  As an NGO participant in the Uruguay event keen on an ambitious outcome, three takeaways for the next phase of the process remain top of mind.

  1. Data will be key to the ongoing process: As a leader of an organization deeply committed to data-driven decision making, I listened closely to the steady call for clearer, internationally recognized data to guide the discussion.  The global delegates can and should look to researchers from the NGO and scientific communities, not only to share baseline information on the current state of plastics waste but to inform goal setting rooted in measurable achievements.  The scientific and NGO communities are already collaborating to quickly map out the guiding research and necessary data sets, and this should remain integral to the treaty process.   Data is a powerful force for system change and transparency is key: leading experts are engaged and remain at the ready to support the member states.
  2. The data must be actionable: The Recycling Partnership develops data with a mindset geared towards decision-making and action.  Data alone will not efficiently lead to solutions, and without prioritization could unintentionally mire the negotiation a sea of information.  As the process moves forward, connecting data-driven information to action will be key.  I’m specifically interested in how data can drive policy, corporate commitment, and public engagement.  I believe that it’s only in the connection of those four things that meaningful momentum will be gained.
  3. The stakes are high: Heading home from the event, I remain optimistic that this treaty could deliver what the world needs: a solution that matches the size of the problem. While session participants universally appreciate the magnitude of the challenge, securing global alignment around the most ambitious path will require ongoing effort.  Truly, there is no other option and there’s no time to waste. The wellbeing of every being on this planet depends on it.