Last reviewed 25 September 2023

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published the first draft of a new global treaty intended to super-charge efforts to eliminate plastic pollution through to 2040.

The intention is to publish an international and legally binding treaty on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.

The document links to other work being carried out by the UNEP and defines the potential criteria to determine polymers and chemicals of concern as harmfulness to the environment and/or human health, including chemicals or groups of chemicals with the following properties.

  1. Carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity (including for example Tris(2- chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) which can be used as a flame retardant in polyurethane (PUR) and Lead and Cadmium which are used as stabilizers in PVC).

  2. Endocrine disruptors (including for example phthalates which are often used as plasticizers, including DEHP, DBP, BBP and DIBP).

  3. Substances of equivalent concern to the above, eg, that affect the immune system, neurological system, a specific organ (immunotoxicant or neurotoxic and STOT RE).

  4. Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic in the environment (PBT).

  5. Very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) (including for example brominated flame retardants as additives in plastics).

  6. Persistent, mobile and toxic substances (PMT).

  7. Very persistent and very mobile substances (vPvM) (including for example PFAS that have been found as a contaminant in plastic packaging or brominated flame retardants as additives).

The draft can be viewed here.