This event taking place during the 12th United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights highlighted the alarming impact of plastics on human rights and the environment and showcase the urgency to progress with an international binding treaty to end plastic pollution, as well as discuss strategies and good practices for businesses to achieve effective human rights and environmental due diligence throughout the entire lifecycle of plastic. This event is organized by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Peru, Ecuador, the Center for International Environmental Law, and the Geneva Environment Network, with the support of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

About this Session

All people everywhere have the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as recently recognized by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 48/13 and the General Assembly in its resolution 76/300. Clean air, a safe climate, access to safe water and adequate sanitation, healthy and sustainably produced food, non-toxic environments in which to live, work, study and play, and healthy biodiversity and ecosystems are generally recognized as key elements of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (OHCHR-UNEP/UNDP).

Our planet is polluted by plastics which contain chemicals that are seriously harmful to people and the environment. Plastics are accumulating in food chains, contaminating water, soil, and air, and releasing hazardous substances into the environment. Most plastics originate as fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases from cradle to grave. Recent scientific studies have found microplastics in human blood, lungs, and placenta, as well as in livestock feed and milk and meat products. Exposure to toxic chemicals often found in plastics can also affect future generations, impacting fertility, shortening gestation periods, and lowering birth weights.

On 2 March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted a historic resolution (5/14) which paves the way for the development of an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution including in the marine environment. A treaty that addresses the full life cycle of plastics, closing governance gaps is crucial if we are to comprehensively address plastic pollution.

As recognized in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, all businesses, including those in the plastics sector, have a responsibility to respect human rights. This session discussed the commitments business enterprises should have in place to identify, prevent any negative human rights impacts stemming from the lifecycle of plastics, including production, design, use and disposal. Commitments should include, for example, effective human rights and environmental due diligence, disclosure of the full chemical composition of their plastic materials and products and clear provisions on transparency and conflict of interest as a means to ensure that corporate political engagement is responsible and rights-respecting.

At this session, leading experts:

  • Highlighted the alarming impact of plastics on human rights and the environment and showcase the urgency to progress with an international binding treaty to end plastic pollution.
  • Reinforced the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in the context of plastics, and particularly in relation to the rights of those most affected by plastic production and pollution including children, women, Indigenous Peoples, coastal communities, people living in extreme poverty, surrounding communities affected by plastic production facilities, and workers at heightened risk of occupational exposure like waste-pickers.
  • Discussed strategies and good practices for businesses to achieve effective human rights and environmental due diligence throughout the entire lifecycle of plastic.
  • Emphasized the importance of ensuring transparency and accountability to ensure corporate engagement is responsible and rights-respecting.

About the 12th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights is the world’s largest annual gathering on business and human rights with more than 2,000 participants from government, business, community groups and civil society, law firms, investor organisations, UN bodies, national human rights institutions, trade unions, academia and the media.

Over three days, participants take part in 60+ panel discussions on topics that relate to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights  (the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework), as well as current business-related human rights issues. The Forum is the foremost event to network, share experiences and learn about the latest initiatives to promote corporate respect for human rights.

After more than 12 years of normative development that has established business and human rights standards in line with the UNGPs, this year’s Forum, under the theme “Towards Effective Change in Implementing Obligations, Responsibilities and Remedies”, will reflect on the actual changes that have occurred in the implementation of these standards. These include the actions that States have taken to incorporate these standards through regulation and policies, the extent to which businesses have applied these standards in their practices throughout their operations, and whether judicial and non-judicial remedies in this area are more available and accessible to those negatively impacted by business-related human rights abuses.

This Forum provides an opportunity to reflect critically on the changes that have been made since the UNGPs were adopted, with a particular focus on sharing examples and stories of positive change. Participants will consider whether and to what extent these changes have proved effective, especially for rights-holders, and what still needs to be achieved.

Speakers

María Daniela GARCÍA

Deputy Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the World Trade Organization

Jodie ROUSSELL

Global Public Affairs Lead, Packaging & Sustainability, Nestlé | Member of the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty

Charlene COLLISON

Director, Collaborations, BSR | Director, Fair Circularity Initiative (FCI) Secretariat

Guangchunliu GANGMEI

Programme Coordinator, Human Rights Campaign and Policy Advocacy Programme, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

David AZOULAY

Director of the Geneva Office and of the Environmental Health Program, Center for International Environmental Law | Moderator

Highlights

Summary

Introduction

David AZOULAY | Director of the Geneva Office and of the Environmental Health Program, Center for International Environmental Law | Moderator

Setting the scene

  • Discussions on what plastic pollution means have been ongoing for years. Most understanding of this is visual: plastic items found in the environment. What was made clear in reports, including the report by UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, Marcos Orellana, is that the impacts of plastics on the enjoyment of human rights go way beyond the impacts of plastic waste and exist throughout the plastic supply chain.
  • When we’re talking about plastic pollution, we would like to use the definition from OECD: “all emissions and risks resulting from plastics production, use, waste management and leakage.” Plastic pollution is not just a waste issue, but relates to production, consumption, and an overall human rights issue.
  • A lot of work has been on the articulation between plastics and human rights. There is a report from UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights that provide an overview of human rights impacts at every stage of the lifecycle (A/76/207).

[Watch the UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights in a Geneva Toxic Free Talks event focusing on his report.]

  • Plastic lifecycle starts with extraction of fossil fuel (plastic feedstocks) that are turned into plastic precursors: monomers, polymers, chemical additives, and chemical reactive agents, done in refineries. These are combined to turn into plastic materials, such as nurdles (plastic pellets) or threads (for textiles). These are then turned to plastic products and into plastic waste. Plastic pollution refers to the impacts on human rights by each stage of the lifecycle.
  • The Forum on Business and Human Rights has organized a series of regional briefings. This event aims to bring together the knowledge to build bridges the communities in the room: the business, human rights, and environment communities.
  • There is an ongoing process to negotiate a new treaty to end plastic pollution taking a whole lifecycle approach. This was adopted at UNEA-5 in March 2022 in Nairobi, and we are now halfway through the process. These negotiations highlighted the need to take into account human rights impacts and to take a rights-based approach to the development of the treaty, bringing together the members of the International Geneva community into the process.

Panel Discussion

María Daniela GARCÍA | Deputy Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the World Trade Organization

How can the future treaty to end plastic pollution be designed to prioritize and protect human rights, especially but not limited to groups in vulnerable situations and most affected groups?

This is a task for the whole international community that implies of all our efforts. The realization of human rights is central, whether we talk about addressing the triple planetary crisis, food security, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the core of the international environmental agenda is the protection of human rights, including the rights to health, healthy environment, access to information, effective public participation in design and implementation of plastic policies and the elaboration of the new treaty, and access to remedy for harm caused by plastics. The harms of human health and environment caused by the production, use and disposal of plastics impose significant economic costs on individuals, societies and governments. There are impacts on economic goals by plastic pollution that burdens society due to illness, productivity losses resulting from disease, disabilities, and premature deaths, and costs resulting from damages to ecosystems.

The approach that assigns greater responsibility to businesses and industries for externalized costs aligns well with the 2021 recommendation of the UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights report to the UN General Assembly that plastics can and should be addressed using a rights-based approach. A just transition with a human rights approach at the core is vital in this regard: a transition for all at every stage of the plastic lifecycle.

  • At every stage of policymaking and negotiations, we need to address the rights of those marginalized: wastepickers, children, women, Indigenous Peoples, frontline and coastal communities, among many others.
  • This can also be done through safe and sound circularity. Trading waste creates serious issues for developing countries. Many countries that produce more waste than they can recycle ship much of these to developing countries. This is a serious matter, certainly not an approach the circular economy must embrace.
  • There should also be care for the future generations’ right to enjoy their human rights. A just transition that has human rights-based approach at its core.

At INC-3, the participation not only of governments but the whole international community is very positive. All of us can contribute from different perspectives to this complex issue.

Jodie ROUSSELL | Global Public Affairs Lead, Packaging & Sustainability, Nestlé | Member of the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty

Nestlé is one of the founding members of the Business Coalition for a Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty, which promotes a new treaty that protects and respects “the livelihood, health, labor, and human rights of all people involved in the value chain.”

Having in mind that businesses are responsible massive volumes of plastic pollution and waste, how can their responses be referenced in the new treaty?

The Coalition has nearly 200 businesses supporting a legally binding treaty to be negotiated. We are looking at three pillar areas: reduction of production of fossil fuel-based plastics, circulating plastics already in the system safely, and remediating existing plastic waste.

In our advocacy work, we have developed specific and long policy positions ranging from problematic chemicals and additives targeted for phase out, extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation, reuse and refill condition policies, and principles for waste management, and specifically, extended producer responsibility for deposit return systems.

In terms of the human rights perspective that the Coalition has taken, we are advocating for a just transition. We actively meet with workers both in both upstream and downstream sectors (as seen in the Fair Circularity Initiative), seeking to recognize the human rights and promote responsible ways to partner with the informal sector from a business perspective, in implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP).

Coming back to the treaty, on what might be possible, harmonized regulation is important. The treaty may offer a good opportunity for this, but we need language around just transition (as seen in UNEA-5.2). On how this might be included in the treaty, references to the UNGP could be an effort at high-level. Within specific annexes on EPR or the waste management sector, there are opportunities to include specific language recognizing the critical contribution waste workers have made and that should continue to be made, whether these are formalized or remain informalized.

There are upstream (creation of plastic products), midstream (turning plastic into goods) and downstream (on waste) companies. On the representation of the companies, science has shown that without a strong engagement on upstream level and reduction of production, everything else in the treaty will be complicated.

How does a multinational company like Nestlé engage and manage “upwards” in your own supply chain to have an impact and push for innovative approaches?

On Coalition-level, this is co-chaired by WWF and Ellen MacArthur Foundation, who work on plastic circularity issues, whether hosting plastic pacts or launching global commitments in the new plastics economy program.

When the Business Coalition was designed, it was designed specifically that the only companies that can become members are those who have a history of actively engaging to work on plastic pollution as an issue. This is not an opportunity for candidates who have not worked on the issue to suddenly join and support a new cause, but for those who have been working on it for years. More specifically: producers of primary plastics are not allowed to join the Coalition. Those working on recycling whether mechanical or chemical may join if they meet the precursor conditions.

The analysis of the registrants list of INC-3 by CIEL et al., looks at the overall bifurcation or trifurcation of the supply chain. As Nestlé specifically, 25% of the packaging is in plastics, while the rest are on glass, metal and paper. Depending on the application, climate and shelf-life of a food product, we may use another material.

From a reduction perspective, there needs to be reduction of fossil fuel-based plastics. The company has reduced our footprint as part of our commitment from 1.5 million tons in 2018 to 920 tons in 2022. This is a result of redesign, changes in product portfolio, and engagement in specific engineering and procurement decisions in countries where we operate. This is part of our commitment as signatory to the global commitment of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. For us, the treaty is an opportunity to potentially harmonize regulations. Hundreds of regulations on plastic come out every year. For a large company is struggling with the necessary regulatory compliance, how can we expect SMEs to do the same? The treaty can play a critical role in harmonizing legislation and standards, and even potentially facilitate trade in the long term.

Guangchunliu GANGMEI | Programme Coordinator, Human Rights Campaign and Policy Advocacy Programme, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

Can you walk us through how Indigenous Peoples are impacted by plastic and plastic pollution?

The damage plastic does is not quite shared equally by everybody. Many low-income countries in the Global South are increasingly turning into dumps for rich countries, especially since China banned the importation of plastic waste in 2017. Meanwhile, transnational companies taking advantage of loopholes in international treaties, such as Basel Convention, dispose of their plastic waste in low income countries with little to no oversight.

For us Indigenous Peoples, plastic products are a double curse. Like everyone else, we suffer from the health and environmental damage derived from them. But we don’t only suffer from their consumption, but we are also affected by their production. From Indonesia to the Americas, fossil fuel – the raw material from which plastics are made – often come from areas where Indigenous Peoples live. In most of these cases, these are extracted without the free, prior and informed consent of affected Indigenous Peoples. Often, they are evicted from ancestral lands to give away highly destructive products that adversely impact human health, biodiversity, climate stability.

Indigenous Peoples are also evicted, allegedly in the name of sound waste management and plastic pollution, which are gross violations of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. Plastic products are contributing to the destruction of cultures as they displace precious indigenous knowledge, innovation, technologies, and practices which are key drivers of nature-based solutions for problems that hyper-industrialization creates.

As the multiple damage of plastics are increasingly recognized, the process to draft the Plastics Treaty can be described as good news, the treaty must be binding and comprehensive, including the stages of production, consumption, and disposal of plastics. All voices must be heard.

What are you seeing as the most significant barriers for businesses to implement effective policies that respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and protect them from the adverse effects of plastic pollution?

Rightsholders are impacted by the problem of plastic products in all dimensions. It is important that the treaty reflects these experiences, their knowledge and contributions, while remaining consistent with the three pillars of the UNGPs – protect, respect, and remedy.

It is important that businesses do not wait for the harm to happen, but to continuously include rightsholders in the process of project implementation, in consideration of the right to free, prior and informed consent and the right to self-determination as enshrined in UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). Remedial mechanisms must also be in place.

David AZOULAY | A lot of the focus in discussions of the treaty, in general, has been focused on solutions, but it will also be key in the designing of the treaty to think of the procedure that aligns with the rights-based approach.

Charlene COLLISON | Director, Collaborations, BSR | Director, Fair Circularity Initiative (FCI) Secretariat

It is a bleak reality that a lot of the plastic we consume is dealt with by informal workers once it reaches the waste stage. BSR has been involved in trying to develop and articulate ways to take into consideration to better support informal communities and waste pickers.

In designing new circularity, what are the challenges and strategies you’ve seen in consumer-facing companies to reduce plastic pollution while ensuring rights-based approach, equity and justice in the value chain?

Waste workers collect around 60% of the plastic that gets recycled globally – an enormous amount out of what would have ended up in the environment. But they are exposed and vulnerable to human rights impacts: they generally have a very inadequate standard of living, are discriminated against, marginalized, excluded from social and financial services, not represented, and denied most of what we associate to decent work.

An example: in a recent survey with waste pickers, 63% frequently experienced a full day without eating any food, showing low levels of food security and lack of safety nets. We are talking about a group in a vulnerable situation but provides an essential service. It is also difficult for businesses to track, trace or relate to because they do not have formal employment, association, representation, or a voice.

This is the challenge. Businesses need to take action to protect the human rights of waste pickers who work in supply chains, but they don’t know how. That practice is emergent but critical to get right.

The Fair Circularity Initiative (FCI) was founded by the Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever, together with Tearfund, to bring businesses together to ensure human rights of workers within the informal waste sector to ensure these are respected and that their critical role in circular value chains are recognized.

The work of FCI is based on a set of core principles based on the UNGPs, purposed for the informal waste sector. Principles include recognition of their role, meaningful engagement, application of gender and local lenses, and addressing barriers to promote rights-respecting practices in the informal waste sector. These can guide what companies do towards creating an ecosystem wherein the principles can be applied. This includes regular consulting with stakeholders, getting additional membership, voluntary reporting on progress, and creating network to move the agenda forward. It’s nascent, critical and key for businesses to step up and not wait for the treaty.

The FCI will work on implementation guidelines for the principles, support interventions in local regions that will trial what works, and build on the capacity of businesses and the wider ecosystem.

This is a tricky systemic issue, and will be difficult for a business on their own to address it at the level it needs. A collaborative approach is critical. We invite other companies to join the initiative.

From your own perspective, how do you see the UNGPs being integrated (and operationalize) in the future – whether in the context of the treaty or beyond?

Charlene COLLISON | The starting point is to adopt these principles and then share progress. This hasn’t been done before, so it is important that one set of actors from one region are able to share it across the board. Adopting the principles, despite the difficulty, and sharing what works and what doesn’t will be necessary.

Guangchunliu GANGMEI | There is a need to include the UNGPs in the treaty, but we reiterate that all voices need to be heard. The implementation mechanism must ensure the participation of Indigenous Peoples, including their traditional structures and processes [within the scientific subsidiary bodies]. As I understand, the treaty process, particularly the contact point negotiations and the regional processes are not very inclusive in that sense. Participation and process need to include all voices.

Stressing on the UNGPs, including the responsibility of businesses and remediation of the cases that put stress on environmental harm, the implementation of the treaty must have an implementation and compliance committee that includes rightsholders, such as Indigenous Peoples, as experts and leaders in such positions.

Jodie ROUSSELL | In terms of operationalization of UNGP, we felt that the application was not specific enough to the context of waste workers and workers in cooperative settings. This is what gave birth to the FCI. We see similar high-level language in a number of national human rights due diligence laws, being prepared for compliance. As businesses like certainty, part of the work of the FCI was not just to help develop the 10 principles for respectful partnerships with waste workers, but to look as well beyond implementation guidelines, and then add reporting frameworks to be specific about how businesses should interact with informal sectors.

We’re taking this another step with the Living Income Assessment methodology to be published. The idea is to have a toolkit to put the methodology in the hands of the rightsholders so that they can assess their own context to know whether their income is living or not. This is to start a discussion on what they need in order to have a decent income.

This is closely linked on Nestlé’s 10 salient human rights issues that impact our sourcing of ingredients and supply chains. We’re already starting reporting as of last year.

Daniela GARCÍA | From the perspective of governments who keep businesses accountable, the governments have a huge responsibility to promote and respect human rights, including the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment and procedural rights. On UNGPs, we need to replicate what works, improve what needs to be improved, address the gaps, and acknowledge what doesn’t work. Voluntary measures work to an extent. This is important to address when discussing UNGPs – these are a starting point, but it is important to note the legally-binding measures in these area are necessary.

In relation to plastic pollution and its policies, we need to consider all stages of the lifecycle of plastics and how the responsibility of businesses and how governments can ensure that human rights are at the center. In the adoption of a policy, there is an expectation to commit to human rights. I was thinking of the WTO when discussing the right mechanisms and tools: consumer protection, sanitary measures, and technical measures are already acknowledged at a domestic level. However, wherever we can harmonize, we can work better. Harmonizing criteria is a good place to start.

Identifying actual and potential human rights risks, how to prevent, mitigate, and identify adverse impacts, and giving voice to diversity can be done through right and inclusive policy design and implementation. How we track the effectiveness of responses and the acknowledgement of different knowledge systems (such as Indigenous Peoples’) are places where governments can improve upon. There is also a lot of work to do in enabling access to remedy for adverse human rights impacts.

With many actors working on the issue, the question now is how to come together and make a strong case for other sectors as well?

David AZOULAY | On voluntary measures, governments are able to transpose human rights principles into actual legislation. It supports business as it creates a level playing field, while creating a framework for accountability of businesses and providing access to different rightsholders to seek remedy.

Q&A

Margerita LYSENKOVA, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) | On practical implementation of the treaty and what it will entail, will anyone be able to comment on the fashion industry?

David AZOULAY | I cannot give a direct answer, but there is in the negotiation round of the treaty a development of what sectoral approaches could be. The zero draft at the moment is large and contains different activities. Because of the complexity of plastic pollution, there is no silver bullet that will work for all of it. But clearly, there is an understanding that plastic is everywhere, and need to be tackled by sector. This is somewhere the plastic treaty can be conducive to new approaches that can provide address some of the issues.

As rightly pointed, it’s not just about what we do about the waste, but how we produce and how we consume.

Q: On financing, do we need to talk about a transition to “plastic adaptation”? What’s your take on capital investments needed in new production lines and how fast these need or can happen? Do you have reflections on society and consumption?

Jodie ROUSSELL | The treaty offers the potential for a multilateral agreement, that once ratified will be transposed into national law, which is what will apply to businesses. Timeline-wise, we are looking several years ahead. We don’t have time to waste, but we have been working on this issue for decades.

On packaging line transformation, some companies own their own packing line. Others use co-manufacturers, having shared facilities. There’s time for planning, depending on the scale of the operation. There is time to buy, finance, and install equipment. If requirements are placed on secondary or tertiary packaging used on shipping, there is time to ensure that the new packaging designed will fit correctly into a pallet to be optimized to avoid wasted space. All these need to be factored into new designs and into new national legislations.

Yuka IWATSUKI, Action against Child Exploitation, Japan | On children’s rights, how do you regard children as a stakeholder in the process? They are often involved in waste picking and are a vulnerable group as well, as plastics can affect their health and their environment.

Charlene COLLISON | It is known that when you look at workers in informal sector, they include children. In the case of waste pickers, it comes down to families not having enough income to afford education or other options. This is why it is important for waste workers to have a living income so that children will not be included in any supply chains ever.

Guangchunliu GANGMEI | Children as rightsholders are as important. Their perspective and participation also need to be ensured.

Daniela GARCÍA | When talking about children, there is a youth group stakeholder participating actively. When we’re talking about children, it is important not just to talk about labor and participation, but to take into consideration scientific information, such as The Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health that presented the link between plastic pollution and human health, has already been established in the case of children.

David AZOULAY | There is a critical understanding that childhood is a critical window of exposure and vulnerability to the many of the toxics that make up plastics. Many of the toxics that end up in our plastics are endocrine disrupting chemicals. We know that exposure to these chemicals during childhood will have multiplied impact later in life, or even in future generations. Because children are subjected to exposure to plastic, recent studies have shown that in toys made from recycled plastics, toxins get concentrated which become a key part in how children are disproportionately affected.

In the original mandate in the negotiation of the treaty, health was given a rather limited space. In the year that has ensued, health has become a key element and an essential part of the negotiations that really helps into consideration of how they can be impacted.

George ZAHARATOS, KPMG | On incentivizing companies to reduce plastic pollution and apply circularity to products, what would Nestlé want to see from an incentive perspective?

Jodie ROUSSELL | Reduction of primary plastics is something certain businesses have already discussed. But only 20% of the users of plastics are part of the Ellen MacArthur Global Commitment for Voluntary Action. Whether it’s recycled content or designing materials for recycling systems, we have several voluntary initiatives launched. We have a group called Consumers Good Forum, a partnership of manufacturers and retailers to consumers, and what are called golden design rules to ensure packaging can be designed for recycling systems that exist in practice and in scale. We also have negative lists: chemicals, additives, materials targeted for phase out.

In terms of incentives, it’s about taking best practices that already exist in various industries, and taking these and making them mandatory. It’s already been proven by a group of companies already doing so, showing that it is possible to implement, while continuing to grow a business. The problem is that these are still voluntary, and we cannot leave something as important as managing plastic pollution solely up to goodwill.

Q: From the unfolding negotiations, we see that there are differing voices within the business community. We have a situation wherein there are businesses extremely active to lobby and participate in negotiations to have a meaningful treaty, while others, particularly upstream producers, are actively lobbying against it or making it as weak as it could be. From the world of business, is there space for business-to-business lobbying?

Jodie ROUSSELL | We invite all businesses eligible to join the Business Coalition. We also invite investors to join. No one wants to see plastic pollution, and it’s a critical issue not only for managers of the company and their investors, but to their employees and their families.

Other questions that were possibly addressed in the Closing.

  • Q: On informality, are there any thoughts on using corporate social responsibility or having some initiative to start businesses that instead creates alternatives to this?
  • Melissa STEWART | In a practical response, addressing child labor in waste picking sector will not be addressed overnight. However, there are examples (such as in the case of child workers in factories in Bangladesh) to provide education, food, while respecting their decision to support their families. In some of the collaborative partnerships, are there partnerships on the philanthropic side?
  • Michael BOYD, Northern Island Human Rights Commission | Is there any strategic advice or alliances that human rights institutions can connect with on this issue?

Closing

Daniela GARCÍA | The case of fighting plastic pollution can make sense economically, in terms of environment, human health, under a human rights framework. Given the international task that we need to undertake, what works for the environment and for the people can also work for the economy.

Jodie ROUSSELL | On the question of inclusion and what businesses can do, a key tool is a well-designed EPR led by legislation, where companies pay a fee for the different types of material put onto the market. Such proceeds will be used by producer responsibility organizations to conduct consumer education, to fund collection, to fund sorting of materials, and to trade them for recycling.

In the work launched with FCI, there is a case study from São Paulo, Brazil, where we looked at workers and their income, that were part of the EPR system that had been designed for their inclusion to ensure their continuity of their work. We’re looking at about 20 million people globally working in informal sector, including them and ensuring that their employment continues with their human rights ensured with a living income.

In the EPR scheme in Brazil, waste workers were making a living income. Independent workers not working with the EPR scheme were not making a living income. There is a specific example of how well-designed regulation can create a pathway to living income and a decent livelihood.

Guangchunliu GANGMEI | I understand that the participation in the process is only allowed for accredited organizations. It is important that it is expanded to include all the rightsholders and stakeholders participating in the design and implementation mechanisms. It is important that funding be made available to potentially impacted communities to participate in the process.

Charlene COLLISON | Our children deserve a thriving world. It’s up to us whether they get a world full of plastic in the ocean or fish.

If you are a company, it’s time to step up. If you work for an NGO or if you have leverage as a consumer, apply it. The time is now to create the influence that we need to get the kind of world that’s worth living in.

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