G7’s Ocean Plastics Charter

Amsterdam, June 14, 2018 — The plastic soup is high up on the international agenda. The recent G7 summit in Ottawa ended in an Ocean Plastics Charter. Of the G7 members, the U.S. and Japan have not signed the document. Before the charter had even been published, there were already criticisms of it not being sufficient to avert the plastic crisis.

Although one of the points of action was a “significant reduction of unnecessary single-use plastic”, no binding reduction targets have been agreed upon and the overall focus of the document lies on the recycling and “recovery” of plastic.

The catch is the latter word. In addition to the recycling and reuse, plastic waste needs to be “recovered”. Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and Breakfreefromplastic (BFFP) emphasize that “recovery” is simply a euphemism for the burning of plastic waste. The burning of plastic goes hand in hand with toxic air pollution and does not prevent the increasing use of plastic.

The overall objective of the Charter is cooperation with the industry so that by 2030, all plastic packaging is composed of at least 55% recycled plastic and is reused, in addition to 100 percent of all plastics in 2040 being “recovered”.  Worded in this way, cooperation with the industry seems to already be underway.

Last month, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced “ambitious targets“: all plastic packaging must be made out of recycled plastic, recycled itself, and reclaimed by 2040. With this, the way ahead points towards the continued unlimited production of plastic. We remember that, in 2016, the ACC announced that the US chemical industry would invest $146 billion into 264 new plastic plants by 2023.

Jennifer Morgan, director of Greenpeace International states: “It’s time for the world’s largest economies to recognize that we cannot simply recycle our way out of this problem.