Unilever calls for a ‘circular economy’ approach to UN plastic treaty

With the next round of negotiations on a UN treaty to end plastic pollution taking place this week in Nairobi, industry giant Unilever has called for a so-called ‘circular’ approach.

According to the EU, the circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.

This week sees a critical stage of the process that should begin to focus on the detail, with talks centring around a zero draft of what will ultimately become the legally binding text.

Releasing a statement on the eve of the talks, Unilever said: “We believe a treaty should achieve the reduction of plastic production and use through a circular economy approach.”

“It must also provide mechanisms for national governments to support a just transition for all people involved in the value chain. This includes recognising the crucial role played by waste pickers and workers in the informal waste and recycling sector.”

“We believe the treaty can help end plastic pollution if UN member states set legally binding global targets, rules and obligations for all actors, and harmonise regulatory standards and policies across markets. This includes establishing well-designed extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes and coupling design for recycling requirements with policies that unlock infrastructure investment and help scale collection, sorting, reuse and recycling systems.”