G7 plastics charter details some specific goals

Marks sharp change in plastics use and role of government in the industry

OCEAN litter, recycling and more environmentally sustainable uses of plastics in general got significant attention in the Ocean Plastics Charter adopted on 9 June by five of the G7 member nations.

The non-binding charter, signed by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Union, suggests those governments want to see significant improvements in how plastic is used and how plastic waste is managed.

It includes a commitment to recycle and reuse at least 55% of plastics packaging by 2030, and recover all plastics by 2040, and as expected, calls for “significantly reducing” unnecessary uses of single-use plastics.

The document includes 23 specific points in five broad categories, and also suggests stronger government roles in supporting markets for recycled plastics, including increasing recycled content by at least 50% in plastic products by 2030.

The agreement was not signed by two G7 members, Japan and the United States. It’s not clear why.

Many of the specific commitments spelled out in the document are more than a decade away, but if implemented could mark a sharp change in plastics use and the role of government in the industry.

The document, for example, calls for research to assess current plastics consumption by sector and look for areas to eliminate unnecessary uses, and strengthen labeling standards “to enable consumers to make sustainable decisions on plastics, including packaging.”

It also calls for accelerating international action and investments around marine waste, and encourages government procurement to “reduce waste and support secondary plastics markets and alternatives to plastic.”

It also said it was important to consider the environmental impact of any alternatives to plastics.