The Global Plastic Laws Database: A Resource to Track Policies Around the World 

Ahead of UN Plastics Treaty negotiations set to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, next month, Plastic Pollution Coalition is proud to launch the Global Plastic Laws Database in partnership with Break Free From Plastic Europe, Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, and Surfrider U.S. Following agreement and adoption of the UN Plastics Treaty, the Database will be useful to support its implementation and then necessary to track and monitor its implementation.

The Global Plastic Laws Database is an extensive database and resource library to research, track, and visualize plastic legislation that has been passed around the world. The Database tracks legislation across the full life cycle of plastics and organizes these policies according to life cycle categories and key topics. Adopting policies to reduce plastic pollution on a global scale is widely recognized as a vital step to address this crisis and its associated detrimental impacts on our communities, health, and environment. 

Plastic Pollution Coalition serves as the Project Manager for the Global Plastic Laws Database, working in collaboration with partner organizations who contribute data from around the world. The unique dataset is input by individuals with native language knowledge and local, on-the-ground networks from across a diverse range of geographies. This process ensures the legislative data and resources are accurate, timely, and relevant to a wide range of political and legislative systems. Collectively, the data partners represent combined data from approximately 115 (out of a total of approximately 195) countries in the world.

Recognizing the impacts of plastics throughout its full life cycle, this database is organized into nine topics: Design and Reuse, Extended Producer Responsibility, Maritime Sources, Microplastics, Production and Manufacturing, Reduction, Transparency and Traceability, Waste Management, and Waste Trade. More details on each of these categories appears below.

The Global Plastic Laws Database is updated regularly, providing a way to monitor and identify emerging trends, solutions, and policy innovations at local, national, and international levels.

Key Audiences

This is a valuable resource center for policymakers, organizations, and advocates who are focused on designing effective policies to address the full life cycle of plastics. Businesses and banks can also use the database to find and understand current plastic regulations across their areas of focus; as well as educators, students, and researchers studying plastic policy; humanitarian organizations planning disaster response; and journalists covering plastic pollution and policy.

Supporting a Strong Global Plastics Treaty

The Global Plastic Laws Database helps organize and assess a broad range of policies that have been implemented and may be adapted for national and international policies, such as the United Nations Plastics Treaty. Recognizing the urgency of plastic pollution, the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) is working to develop an international treaty to unite governments to tackle plastic pollution. If successful, the treaty represents an incredible opportunity to make a difference at the scale needed to begin to effectively end plastic pollution and comprehensively address its numerous and widespread impacts.

The Global Plastic Laws Database is an invaluable resource for use during the UN Plastics Treaty negotiation process by making plastic legislation across all jurisdictions visible and accessible to be adapted and input into the Treaty. Following agreement and adoption of the UN Plastics Treaty, the Database will be necessary to track and monitor its implementation.

Project Partners

Plastic Pollution Coalition serves as the project manager and provides strategic leadership and development for the Global Plastic Laws Database and works closely with three Core Data Partners to track and update legislative data from around the world. 

Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) Europe monitors legislation relevant to plastic along its lifecycle and works with policymakers in countries across Europe and at the European Union (EU) level to design and deliver policy solutions for a future that is free from plastic pollution. The BFFP movement in Europe brings together more than 110 core members, including the Rethink Plastic alliance, which gathers 10 leading NGO working together to secure ambitious EU plastic policies.

Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) tracks and updates a significant proportion of the global legislative activity. ELAW helps communities speak out for clean air, clean water, and a healthy planet. We are a global alliance of attorneys, scientists, and other advocates collaborating across borders in more than 80 countries to build a sustainable, just future.

Surfrider Foundation U.S. tracks and updates all single-use plastic legislative activity in the United States with a grassroots network of over 170 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs. This extensive network helps to ensure the Database will have the most comprehensive U.S. data on single-use plastic legislation across all 50 states.

Life Cycle Categories & Key Topics

Design + Reuse
Laws addressing design or redesign of plastic alternatives for circularity and sustainability, including creating better systems, materials, and products. This could include providing incentives for reusables and refillables, deposit return schemes, etc.

Extended Producer Responsibility
Laws addressing the total environmental cost of a product throughout its lifecycle and intended to shift the responsibility of waste management from local governments to the producer. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws will differ based on the specific region and different implementation of EPR.

Maritime Sources
Laws addressing maritime port reception facility regulations, fishing gear requirements, and more.

Microplastics
Laws addressing the redesigning of products to reduce microplastics emissions. This could include microplastics intentionally added (i.e. in cosmetics and other products), pellet loss, artificial turf, microfibers, etc.

Production + Manufacturing
Laws aimed at the raw materials of plastics, including measures to reduce the production of virgin plastics. This could include taxes on virgin resins, caps on production facilities, etc.

Reduction
Laws aimed at reducing single-use plastic items. This could include legislation that targets a particular type of plastic (e.g., macroplastics) and measures that include public information campaigns aimed at reducing consumption.

Transparency + Traceability
Laws addressing the visibility and accessibility of data regarding plastics as they move throughout the value chain, such as requirements for producers to disclose the amount of plastic used, reporting obligations, etc.

Waste Management
Laws addressing the full spectrum of waste management, including end-of-life, disposal, chemical or advanced “recycling,” incineration, etc.

Waste Trade
Laws addressing the transfer of waste from one region to another.

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By Leena Joshi, Plastic Pollution Coalition Youth Ambassador

Plastic pollution has become an insidious epidemic that has infiltrated every corner of our planet, leaving no ecosystem untouched. While we celebrate the rise of sustainable businesses offering eco-friendly products that help us waste less, there’s a disconcerting oversight that continues to plague our environment: single-use plastic packaging. Of plastics discarded as wastes, an estimated 40 percent is packaging. It’s high time we address this issue head-on and recognize that true sustainability extends beyond the products; it also must include the packaging that houses it.

In a world that increasingly champions sustainability as the gold standard for businesses, it’s bewildering to see how many otherwise eco-conscious companies turn a blind eye to the environmental catastrophe of their single-use plastic packaging. Just as researchers have uncovered microplastics in our hearts, we can find traces of plastic pollution in the DNA of numerous brands. This not only tarnishes business reputations, but threatens human health, social justice, the environment, and wildlife.

Recent studies have exposed the pervasive issue of microplastics infiltrating our bodies. For example, researchers have collected heart tissue samples from patients during heart surgeries, in which they found tens to thousands of microplastic pieces in each sample. These minute invaders included plastics used in single-use beverage bottles (made of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET) and pieces introduced during surgery, like intravenous (IV) solution bags (made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC). 

Even more concerning, all the blood samples taken from these patients contained plastic particles, confirming that microplastics can journey into our hearts through our bloodstream. This revelation underscores the urgent need to understand the potential health effects of these microplastics on our health.

The path of plastic into our hearts begins when we inadvertently absorb, ingest, or inhale it into our bodies. As our understanding of this issue deepens, it becomes abundantly clear that plastic pollution is not just an environmental concern; it’s an immediate global threat affecting human health and the entire ecosystem.

Microplastics aren’t just silent intruders in our bodies; they bring with them a host of detrimental effects. They contain and release hormone-disrupting, immune-suppressing, and carcinogenic additives. In addition, plastic pollution contributes to climate change by releasing greenhouse gasses and hazardous chemicals like dioxins, heavy metals, and polychlorinated biphenyls throughout its life cycle. From extraction to production, use, and disposal, plastic leaves a trail of environmental destruction.

In order to end this crisis, we must address every stage of plastic’s existence, from production to use and disposal. The solution is readily available, and it starts with a fundamental shift away from unhealthy and wasteful single-use plastics towards embracing sustainable, plastic-free alternatives.

Businesses, in particular, have a pivotal role to play. Many are already producing sustainable and eco-friendly products, but they often neglect the critical aspect of packaging. It’s time for them to align their values with their actions by adopting plastic-free packaging solutions. Sustainable businesses should lead the way and set an example for their industries.

Take Action

The opportunity to drive these essential shifts is upon us, and it requires collective action. We urge not only businesses but also individuals to be advocates for change. Encourage both your local government and international leaders to take a firm stance on UN Global Plastics Treaty negotiations. It’s crucial to hold polluters accountable while supporting and empowering people to engage in sustainable solutions.

In a world grappling with the omnipresence of plastic, the call for change is growing louder every day. As individuals, we hold the power to drive this transformation. Through our daily efforts to reject single-use plastics and following the principles of reusability, refillability, repairability, and sharing, we actively work towards a vision where sustainability becomes an ingrained and integral part of our lives, rather than just a trendy slogan.

As this movement gains momentum, it propels us towards a future where the shadow of plastic pollution fades into the annals of history. It’s a future where our collective commitment to a plastic-free existence paves the way for a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable world for generations to come. We need to take action now to ensure that plastic packaging is no longer a silent menace to our planet and our health.

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Last week, Plastic Pollution Coalition and our allies joined tens of thousands of others to take part in Climate Week NYC, “the biggest climate event on Earth.” Coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) annual meeting on pressing global issues, Climate Week kicked off with the March to End Fossil Fuels, and involved hundreds of events at which activists, artists, businesses, frontline and community groups, non-profit organizations, scientists, and world leaders collaborated to take action to stop climate collapse. The following is our recap.

This year, we and our movement members and allies represented and engaged in the March to End Fossil Fuels, frontline activists’ gatherings, The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Nia Global Solutions with Jane Fonda, AY Young’s Battery Tour performance in Times Square, Climate Nest, Global Citizen, and more.

Climate Week demonstrates that our movement is making a difference—addressing plastic pollution, fossil fuels, and the climate crisis together. Just and equitable, real solutions to these urgent challenges for people and the planet exist today, and we need everyone onboard to help actualize the changes we need.

— Dianna Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition

Connecting Plastics & Climate at the March to End Fossil Fuels

Jackie Nuñez, Plastic Pollution Coalition Advocacy and Engagement Manager, and Founder of The Last Plastic Straw, with Judith Enck, Founder & President of Beyond Plastics with Eileen Ryan of @plasticfreemass. Photo by Leslie Evans

Climate Week NYC 2023 kicked off with the March to End Fossil Fuels, which was attended by an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 people. Many Plastic Pollution Coalition Members and partners participated, including Beyond Plastics; Break Free From Plastic; Greenpeace; Plastic Pollution Coalition Youth Ambassador Xiye Bastida, founder of Re-Earth Initiative; Dr. Kristal Ambrose, 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner and Founder of Bahamas Plastic Movement; and more. As groups and individuals mobilized, they called on the U.S. and other governments, as well as corporations, investors, and other entities to stop prioritizing fossil fuel and plastic industry profits over people and the planet.

Dr. Kristal Ambrose at the March to End Fossil Fuels on September 17, 2023, in NYC. Photo by @goldmanprize

A major highlight of the march was that it was the first time we noticed an abundance of posters and calls emphasizing the connection between plastics, fossil fuels, and the climate crisis. It is critical for all of us to identify—and act on—the connections between plastic pollution and the climate crisis. Plastics are made of fossil fuels, driving injustice and creating toxic pollution and high emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases. Scientists, Indigenous knowledge holders, and other experts have emphasized that plastic pollution must be stopped at its source by regulating and requiring industries dealing in fossil fuels, petrochemicals, and plastics to turn off their taps.

To push forth serious action accelerating an equitable shift away from fossil fuels to a healthier and more regenerative future, Plastic Pollution Coalition has joined nearly a million signatories in endorsing the Fossil Fuel Non- Proliferation Treaty. The petition calls on world governments to join a group of Pacific nations led by Vanuatu and Tuvalu to support creation of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to complement the Paris Agreement. Plastic Pollution Coalition also distributed a one-page fact sheet emphasizing the connections between plastic pollution, fossil fuel, and climate change to Climate Week attendees.

Plastic Pollution Coalition Member Businesses Take Action on Plastics & Climate Change

Dr. Mantravadi speaks at Clinton Global Initiative

At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)’s meeting in Midtown Manhattan, we heard from an inspiring array of speakers focused on this year’s theme to “Keep Going.” We heard from Plastic Pollution Coalition Business Member Dr. Manasa Mantravadi, founder of Ahimsa, nontoxic stainless steel kid-friendly tableware. Dr. Mantravadi announced that Ahimsa is a 2023 CGI Commitment Maker focused on decarbonizing school cafeterias by shifting from plastics to reusable stainless steel foodware and increasing students’ environmental health knowledge by sharing Ahimsa’s curriculum. 

On the CGI stage, Dr. Mantravadi discussed a pilot project to eliminate plastic foodware from New York City schools and called on event attendees to reach out if they know schools that are interested in participating, or if they want to sponsor a school. Chelsea Clinton was so motivated and moved by Manasa’s project she made a public announcement on stage that she wants her kids’ public school to be part of the pilot project.

Plastic Pollution Coalition Business Member Sea Briganti, Founder and CEO of Loliware, also attended CGI. Loliware’s nontoxic, biodegradable single-use straws made from seaweed were the “official straws” of CGI, and were made available to all attendees. Loliware’s iconic blue straws can be manufactured using conventional plastic-production equipment. 

PPC Notables & Board Members at Climate Week

Jane Fonda and Kristin Hull in conversation. Photo by Nia Impact Capital

Nia Impact Capital is a woman-led investment firm that carefully chooses companies with woman leadership across six solutions themes, based on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) impact. Nia actively engages with companies in its portfolios, holding them accountable to the most inclusive, sustainable, and ethical business practices. Nia held an exciting event featuring Kristin Hull, Nia Impact Capital Founder, in conversation with PPC Notable Jane Fonda. 

We learned about Hull’s and Fonda’s efforts to help shift money and power toward leadership for a sustainable and inclusive future, and how we can support systems change by using our voices and money to push forth our environmental and social goals. Calling it “the most important thing I will do in my lifetime,” Fonda announced the Jane Fonda Climate PAC, which is focused on electing climate champions at all levels of government—not fossil fuel supporters.

During Climate Week we were delighted to hear from Plastic Pollution Coalition Notable Kyra Sedgwick, who joined tens of thousands of others at the March to End Fossil Fuels, on a special Climate Week segment on MSNBC. She emphasized that addressing the climate crisis also means addressing plastics and fossil fuels—and discussed how each of us can take real and swift action to make positive change.

Kyra Sedgwick shows her plastic-free bamboo cutlery. Photo by @kyrasedgwickofficial

We connected with Plastic Pollution Executive Advisory Board Member Dr. Michel K. Dorsey at Rising to the Challenge: How Storytelling Drives Climate Action, a panel hosted by Sun Valley Forum and Local Projects. Dr. Dorsey, an environmental scientist and globally recognized expert on clean energy, finance, and environmental health, has helped inform and push forth solutions to the climate crisis and climate injustice. Also at the event we attended an engaging and hopeful panel with Plaintiffs for Youth vs Montana.

Dr. Michael K. Dorsey with Jackie Nuñez of Plastic Pollution Coalition
Youth vs Montana panel

Youth and Creators Make an Impact

AY Young performs in Times Square

At Climate Week NYC, we heard from many young people and creators calling for systems shift on fossil fuels, climate change, and plastic pollution.

In Times Square, we enjoyed an energizing renewable-powered musical performance—the first of its kind—featuring PPC Youth Ambassador AY Young. AY Young is an artist who has combined his passions for creating music and making a difference in the world to launch the “Battery Tour” with portable solar batteries providing electricity for his performances—more than 900 and counting—that are also expanding communities’ access to energy, the internet, and education around the world.

At the performance, which was livestreamed, Plastic Pollution Coalition Co-Founder and CEO Dianna Cohen spoke on stage about the enormous impact of plastics on people and the planet, and the connection between fossil fuels, plastics, and the climate crisis. She introduced Plastic Pollution Coalition as an implementation partner to AY Young’s Project17—a related project that brings attention to meeting the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—and introduced AY Young for his performance of the song for UN SDG #14: Life Below Water. Other speakers on the stage included: Plastic Pollution Coalition Members Ali Weinstein and Allison Begalman, the founders of Hollywood Climate Summit; Xiye Bastida, Plastic Pollution Coalition Youth Ambassador and founder the Re-Earth Initiative); and Plastic Pollution Coalition Notables Rocky Dawuni, a Ghanaian musician; and Paul Hawken, the founder of Drawdown. 

Project17 serves as an umbrella for an intricate partnership of 17 Organizations, 17 Sponsors and 17 partner musicians to develop 17 Impact projects destined to make our planet a healthier, kinder, and more sustainable world. Plastic pollution contributes to nine of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 3, 6, 9, 11–15, and 17. Ending plastic pollution is necessary to meet the UN SDGs. Meeting these SDGs can support building a healthier, more just, and more sustainable world for all people.

Partnerships to Power Our Planet panel: Alok Sharama (moderator) COP26 President and member of UK Parliament, Mary De Wysocki, Chief Sustainability Officer, Cisco, Patricia Zurita, Chief Strategy Officer Conservation International, Surbhi Martin, Senior Vice President Danone, and Xiye Bastida, Co-Founder ReEarth Initiative

Ahead of Global Citizen, a festival aimed at inspiring and empowering people to learn and take action to address climate change, poverty, and inequality, we attended several impactful Global Citizen NOW: Climate Sessions. At one of these sessions, Plastic Pollution Coalition Youth Ambassador Xiye Bastida joined an esteemed panel titled: Partnerships To #PowerOurPlanet: Working Together to Address Climate Change Now. During the conversation, Xiye advocated the importance of using both Indigenous knowledge and scientific evidence in implementing solutions to the climate crisis. On the Global Citizen stage, Bastida joined engineer and science communicator Bill Nye to call for an end to fossil fuel expansion.

Take Action

Greenpeace at the March to End Fossil Fuels in NYC, September 17, 2023

The week had its fair share of corporate greenwashing, which has become the ironic norm at events, conferences, and major climate talks. Yet the overall turnout and public participation with meaningful dialogue focusing on real solutions introduced by both the public and private sectors showed that corporate polluters may have the profits, but people are pushing forth the positive change necessary to build a better world. 

Overall, this year’s Climate Week NYC was full of encouraging events and developments that show us there is positive change underway to address plastic pollution, fossil fuels, and the climate crisis. Despite being up against “Goliath,” individuals and communities are coming together to work toward a healthier and more just, equitable world. We celebrate, among other Climate Week achievements, that 15 Earthshot Prize finalists were recognized for their innovative solutions and that construction of five petrochemical plants have been stopped by frontline communities and supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies Beyond Petrochemicals.

But more work is needed to make the change we need, and we need your help. With the UN Plastics Treaty now being negotiated, we have the opportunity to address plastic pollution at the source, starting with its fossil fuel ingredients. The U.S. is the world’s biggest plastic and fossil fuel polluters, and this is a critical time to push them to do more to solve these interconnected crises. Please join us in calling on the U.S. Government (USG) to take a strong stance on the UN Plastics Treaty so it can accomplish all it must.

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August 1, 2023 , 7:00 pm 8:00 pm EDT

PPC Advocacy and Engagement Manager Jackie Nuñez is joining BYO – US Reduces to discuss her work addressing plastic pollution with Plastic Pollution Coalition and The Last Plastic Straw. (Virtual meeting.)

July 31, 2023 , 8:00 am 5:00 pm EDT

Join a virtual tour of PPC Business Member Ecovative’s new “Mushroom Packaging” facilities to mark the end of Plastic Free July, and in the interest of raising awareness about the problem of plastic pollution, and the current availability of real solutions like Mushroom Packaging.

October 25, 2023 October 26, 2023 EDT

The National Zero Waste Conference is the annual two-day virtual educational and networking event organized by Zero Waste USA and partners. Zero Waste Businesses & Institutions is the focus on Wednesday, October 25 and Zero Waste Communities on Thursday, October 26, 2023.

Conference Topics Include:

  • Circular Economy and Zero Waste
  • Zero Waste and Climate Change
  • Ocean Plastics
  • World Cleanup Day
  • Organics Out of Landfill
  • Zero Waste Hierarchy of Highest and Best Uses
  • Zero Waste Culture Change
  • Zero Waste Lifestyles
  • Reduce, Rethink, Redesign
  • Product Policies
  • Zero Waste Certification
  • Zero Waste Plans
  • Zero Waste for Industry, Business and Institutions
  • Right Sizing Service
  • Contracting Best Practices
  • Market Development and Infrastructure
  • How to Recycle Right
  • Good Green Jobs
  • Social Equity and Workers Dignity
  • Dual vs. Single Stream
  • Save As You Throw