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New study: South Africa takes lead in support of treaty to cut plastics production

The survey reveals consistent support for ambitious action on plastics across all countries. PHOTO/GREENPEACE.


Ahead of the fourth Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC4) meeting for a Global Plastics Treaty to be held in Ottawa, Canada from April 23 to 29, 2024, a new Greenpeace International report revealed that 8 out of 10 people in South Africa support cutting plastic production.

The survey which was conducted across 19 countries indicates overwhelming public backing for measures aimed at ending single-use plastics and promoting reuse-based solutions.

Hellen Kahaso Dena, Pan African Plastic Project Lead for Greenpeace Africa said a strong Global Plastics Treaty must prioritise a reduction in plastic production to ultimately end the corporate addiction to single-use plastics.

Countries where the study took place. PHOTO/GREENPEACE.

“The people have spoken, it is now upon our leaders to listen and take action. Plastic is polluting throughout its entire lifecycle; from the moment it is extracted to its disposal. Our governments must be ready to show true leadership and prove that they are on the side of the people,” Ms Dena added.

Globally, key findings from the survey include:

• 82% of respondents support cutting the production of plastic to stop plastic pollution.
• 80% of respondents advocate for protecting biodiversity and the climate by reducing plastics production.
• 90% of respondents endorse transitioning away from single-use plastic packaging to reusable and refillable alternatives.
• 75% of respondents support a ban on single-use plastic packaging.
• 80% of respondents express concern [1] about the health impacts of plastic on their loved ones and 84% of parents surveyed express concern about the health impacts of plastic on their children.

What the report says about public health. IMAGE/GREENPEACE.

The survey reveals consistent support for ambitious action on plastics across all countries, particularly in countries in the Global South  where plastic pollution levels are notably high.

A strong majority of people support these measures across all categories, including 60% of respondents who supported the exclusion of lobbyists from the fossil fuel and chemical industries from treaty negotiations.

In several countries there is a significant disconnect between the level of public support for cutting plastic production and the position of their governments on the treaty. In South Africa, the majority of the respondents supported limiting the production of plastics, while the government has yet to support this measure.

Greenpeace demands that the Global Plastics Treaty cuts total plastic production by at least 75% by 2040 to protect biodiversity and ensure that global temperatures stay below 1.5°C. Over 99% of plastic is made from fossil fuels, and with production set to skyrocket, this will exacerbate the climate crisis.

Recommendations from the study. IMAGE/GREENPEACE.

Government ministers from 173 countries will gather at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, Canada for the INC4 conference to negotiate a legally binding Treaty.  The last negotiation meeting will happen in Busan, South Korea in November 2024.

The INC3 meeting in Nairobi, Kenya last November 2023 ended in frustration as low-ambition countries derailed the negotiations, with the talks ending without a mandate to create a first draft of the treaty. Instead, the meeting saw the Zero Draft reworked to add weaker options, resulting in a half-baked document.

The research was conducted by Censuswide, from a sample of 19,088 members of the public  in the UK, USA, Canada, India, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, China, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Austria, and Norway. The data was collected between 16th – 26th February 2024.

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