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Hello, this is Michelle, bringing you the first part of our series on plastics – one of the most pervasive materials in our daily lives that is causing us a pile of environmental and health problems.

As countries gear up for negotiations on a global plastics treaty in February, we’ll be looking at the plastic crisis from different angles and what is being done to solve it, starting with those at the source.

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Michelle Langrand


Solving the plastic problem: Are polluters cleaning up their act?

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A recycling factory, which recycles plastic garbage from the Nile river, in Giza, Egypt, 24 May 24, 2021. (Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

From the masks we wear, to the food containers we buy, to our phone chargers, the majority of objects that we use on a daily basis contain plastic. These products represent a large part of the world’s economy, with global trade in plastics weighing around $1 trillion.

But pressure from consumers and tougher regulations are pushing some of the biggest polluting companies to commit to reducing their plastic footprint. On Monday, a group of more than 70 food and packaging giants, including Unilever, Coca-cola, and Nestlé, urged leaders to strike an “ambitious” UN international agreement on plastic pollution, less than two months before official discussions kick off at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi.

The statement called for the treaty to regulate plastics throughout its entire lifecycle, from its production to its consumption to its disposal, particularly aiming to reduce the production and use of virgin plastics.

But how are these companies contributing on their own to solve the plastics problem?

Read more in Geneva Solutions (EN)

Here's what else is happening

Number of the day

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The estimated true social cost of plastic produced in 2019. According to a WWF report released in September, the true social cost of plastic produced in 2019 could be estimated at $3.7 trillion, which is more than the GDP of India.


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