The Plastic-Climate Connection

Plastic pollution is a serious environmental, human health and climate crisis. And it is everywhere — found in our oceans, in wildlife that consume it, in our food and even our bodies. Plastic also has a distinct climate connection. 

Did you know that plastic is a product of the fossil fuel industry? If plastic were a country, it would be the fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter. Just as fossil fuel companies use oil and coal to make toxic fuels, they also use these same sources to make plastic products, particularly harmful single-use plastics.

Right now, plastic production is skyrocketing: growing over 22,000% in the past 70 years. As many industries move toward more sustainable fuel sources, the fossil fuel industry is desperate to find continuing uses for their dirty resources — and single-use plastic products are their answer. 

That’s why Pacific Environment calls for a strong Global Plastics Treaty, a reduction of plastic by at least 75% and the phase-out of single-use plastics by 2040.

  • Five years into the start of our initiative to eliminate plastic pollution in Vietnam, I feel immense pride in how much Pacific Environment and our partners have accomplished with our Zero Waste movement.
    Xuan Quach, Vietnam Plastic Team Lead
  • A global plastic treaty has huge potential to help the world address plastic pollution.
    Deng Ping, Regional Director, Pacific Environment’s Chongqing Office.
  • Recycling is a false solution to the plastic pollution crisis: only 9% of annual plastic waste is recycled.
  • About 44% of plastic produced is for single-use plastic packaging: plastic that is used once and then disposed of.
  • Some plastic products do not disintegrate until 400 years after they land in the ocean.
  • About 60% of the plastic produced ends up leaked or dumped into the environment.
  • A False Solution
  • Single-use Plastic
  • Generations of Plastics
  • Plastic Waste

Global collaboration to stem the plastics tide

We know how harmful plastics and plastic pollution can be, yet reaching solutions can be challenging when decision-making is spread across countries and the planet. The Global Plastics Treaty, an international, legally-binding document, is our best chance to move world leaders to real action. 

The Global Plastics Treaty is led by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution, or INC, which meets biannually to discuss the Global Plastics Treaty.


Act Now!

The fifth and final INC meeting — called INC5 — will take place in Busan, Republic of Korea, in November 2024, where the 193 U.N. member state delegates will hone in on the Global Plastics Treaty in hopes of coming to an agreement.

Pacific Environment knows how important this moment is in our work to end fossil-fueled plastic pollution. Follow our work as we continue to urge INC member states to pass a strong Global Plastics Treaty to benefit people, wildlife and the planet. 

Tell President Biden we need U.S. leadership on the Global Plastics Treaty! 


A Global Solution

The Global Plastics Treaty is the world’s clearest way to solve the fossil-fueled plastics crisis. This far-reaching document housed within the United Nations has the power to guide international leaders to take collective action. 

Help Pacific Environment push for a strong Global Plastics Treaty: tell President Biden that American leadership is needed for a strong Global Plastics Treaty. Sign the petition to take action today.


Stemming the plastic-climate crisis

The world’s worst polluters need to stem the tide of excess plastic products to help defeat the climate crisis.

So what’s needed to get there? Read our report, Stemming the Plastic-Climate Crisis: Paris Alignment for Plastics Requires at least 75% Reduction, for Pacific Environment’s guidelines to reach the necessary 1.5 degree climate goals.


Get involved: Say no to single-use plastics by using reusable containers! 

About 44% of plastic produced is for single-use plastic packaging: plastic that is used just once and then disposed of.

Take a stand against plastic waste by trying out reusable containers. Join Pacific Environment’s “Bring Your Own Cup” campaign and make a difference.

When you go to bubble tea shops or cafes, bring a reusable cup with you and ask the staff to use that instead of single-use plastics — then, share your success with us on social media using #BYOC_BubbleTea! Learn more here.


Learn more about Pacific Environment’s invaluable partners

Turning the tide on the plastic-climate crisis cannot happen alone, which is why Pacific Environment works with organizations and community groups around the world to combat fossil-fueled plastic pollution together.

Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Break Free From Plastic

Zero Waste Europe

Plastic Solutions Fund

  • Set science-based reduction targets for plastic within planetary limits: Limit petrochemical expansion and cap the production and consumption of plastic, with binding targets on reduction that align with a 1.5 Celsius temperature change scenario. We further call on the treaty to include binding targets to phase out single-use plastic by 2040 or sooner.
  • Measure all plastics emissions and hold the industry accountable: Ensure full life cycle analysis of plastic’s climate impacts — from the mining of fossil fuels to plastic disposal — to mitigate greenwashing and uncounted emissions.
  • Promote and encourage reduce-reuse solutions: Outline policies and incentives that will encourage companies and governments to scale up reduce-reuse systems, including financial instruments and financing mechanisms.
  • End false solutions: Put an end to false solutions, including waste to energy and plastic incineration. We call for no plastic incineration by 2050 or sooner (including chemical recycling and cement kilns). Include a ban on all transnational plastics waste trade, ending the global environmental injustice of this practice.
  • Provide a just transition for waste workers: Elevate concerns and expertise of waste pickers and informal recyclers and ensure high-quality, safe jobs through a just transition (including in the new reuse-refill-recycle economy).