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the production of new delivery models, plastic substitutes,
recycling facilities, and collection infrastructure.169
example, estimated annual funding of around US$30 billion
will be needed to fund new infrastructure.170
However, there
is currently no feedback loop from the adverse aspects of the
plastic system because the lifecycle cost of plastic is not fully
accounted for in the price. Therefore, action can be deterred
due to the financial resources required for implementation
when, in reality, this cost is likely lower than the cost imposed
by the plastic lifecycle. For example, Breaking the Plastic
Wave highlighted a potential cost saving from switching from
BAU to a systems change approach.171
A lack of technical capacity and comprehensive
research has also held back government policy. Deep
technical expertise in solutions across the plastic lifecycle
are needed to ensure government policy is conducive to a
circular economy transition. Governments are therefore
often held back in implementing such approaches due to
the need to build up technical capacity and knowledge.
Governments also lack the information required to act
due to limitations in scientific understanding of the plastic
crisis, and geographic gaps in the data. For example, there is
currently an incomplete picture of microplastic emissions.172
This can hinder government decision-making as there is a
lack of understanding of where the problem is coming from
and therefore where efforts should be focused.
Government efforts so far have mostly been limited
to tackling just one stage of the lifecycle or a too
narrow scope of plastic products. Many government
efforts so far have focused on just one stage of the lifecycle
such as improving waste management or banning plastic
bags, none of which will work in isolation.173
A lack of global coordination is also undermining
government efforts. At a national level, banning plastic
bags, along with other plastic packaging, is the most used
remedy to rein in plastic waste. So far, 115 nations have taken
that approach, but in different ways. In France, bags less than
50 microns thick are banned. In Tunisia, bags are banned if
they are less than 40 microns thick.178
can create loopholes that enable illegal bags to find their way
into market stalls, undermining government regulations.
For example, since Kenya passed the world's toughest plastic
bag ban in 2017, it has seen illegal bags being smuggled in
from neighbouring countries.179
This lack of consistency in
government regulations can also increase the complexity for
multinational business operations; companies that operate
in multiple countries must comply with hundreds of slightly
different regulations on plastic packaging.180
need for global coordination to effectively tackle the plastic
For example, in
60% of the countries which have some form of plastic-related
legislation, regulations only address single-use plastic bags.174
Current government and industry commitments are
likely to reduce annual leakage of plastic by only 7%
relative to BAU.175
An absence of legal enforcement is limiting the
effectiveness of efforts. The number of voluntary
initiatives to tackle the plastic crisis and plastic pollution
have increased massively over the past five years.176
Tackling the plastic crisis is beyond the ability of any
one country and requires a truly global response, but
there is currently no global agreement specifically
set-up to tackle marine plastic pollution. Plastic is
a transboundary issue with international problem drivers,
which necessitates a truly global response. Plastic has a global
value chain with the extraction of raw materials, conversion
into plastic products, consumption and waste management
often happening across multiple countries. Plastic pollution
is also not constrained by national boundaries, because it
migrates via water and air currents and settles at the seafloor.
More than 50% of the ocean's area sits beyond national
jurisdiction, including the " garbage patches " (large areas
of the ocean where plastic litter accumulate).181
This means
these initiatives are steps in the right direction, they alone
are insufficient to tackle the problem. A lack of enforcement
of rules or consequences for failure to meet targets can
lead to failure in implementation. For example, Australia's
Voluntary Code of Practice for the Management of Plastic
Bags in 2003 failed to achieve the required reductions in
plastic bags and increases in recycling rate. Additionally,
global initiatives such as The Ocean Plastics Charter, which
is signed by 26 governments and aims to achieve better
resource efficiency and lifecycle management approaches to
plastic, has been limited by a lack of binding rules.177
that governments are making efforts to tackle the negative
impacts and bearing the cost for actions and decisions that
have been made in other countries (for example, product
design, choice of ingredients etc.). Governments are unable
to control these impacts without a global governance
structure. A global response is therefore needed to be able
to tackle this global problem. However, currently " no global
agreement exists to specifically prevent marine plastic litter
and microplastics or provide a comprehensive approach to
managing the lifecycle of plastic " .182
Therefore, there is growing consensus that a global
framework is needed to fill the gap in the current
policies and provide the technical guidance and
coordination mechanism required to tackle the
plastic crisis.
These slight differences
This indicates a


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