Zero Draft aims to tackle plastic pollution through sustainable practices across the plastic lifecycle

In a significant move towards addressing global plastic pollution, the Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) released a first draft text for the forthcoming international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, on the 4th September 2023.

Zero Draft text of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. (Source: Third Session: Pre-session documents | UNEP – UN Environment Programme)

What is commonly referred to as the Zero Draft for the Plastics Treaty proposes options for reducing plastic pollution by promoting the sustainable production, consumption, and end-of-life management of plastics through international and national determined approaches. The Zero Draft is intended to facilitate and support the INCs work and will form the basis for discussion at the upcoming third INC meeting (INC-3) taking place from 13th to 19th November in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Zero Draft was prepared by the Chair of the INC, with the support of the INC Secretariat and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), based on discussions during the first two INCs (Punta del Este and Paris) and submissions from members states. The Zero Draft reiterates the objective of ending plastic pollution while safeguarding human health and the environment, and outlines possible options related to eliminating, minimising, and regulating pollution across the plastic lifecycle:

  • Primary plastic polymers and chemicals of concern
  • Problematic and avoidable plastics products, including single-use plastic products and intentionally added microplastics
  • Product design, composition, and performance
  • Non-plastic substitutes
  • Extended Producer Responsibility
  • Emissions and releases of plastics throughout its life cycle
  • Waste management
  • Trade in listed chemicals, polymers, products, and plastic waste
  • Existing plastic pollution, including in the marine environment
  • Just transition
  • Transparency, tracking, monitoring, and labelling

Infographic on the Journey Towards Ending Plastic Pollution – highlighting the key processes, milestones and stakeholders of the INC as they conceptualize and negotiate an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution. Created by IKHAPP and GRID-Arendal.

The Zero Draft also lays out different means and mechanisms of implementation, including financing, capacity building, technical assistance, and technology transfer. National Plans, reporting on progress, and periodic assessments and monitoring are also discussed as measures to support member states to fulfil its obligations under the treaty to reach the broader objective of ending plastic pollution. The draft text also reserves placeholders for matters and possible Annexes that have yet to be discussed by the INC, which will be further negotiated during INC-3 and forthcoming meetings.

The full version of the Zero Draft can be found here. To find out more about the process, you may check out the dedicated website for the INC on plastic pollution, and sign up to watch UNEP’s technical webinar series in the lead-up towards INC-3. Otherwise, stay tuned for more updates from the IKHAPP team, who look forward to continue following the plastic treaty process and attend the upcoming INC-3 in Nairobi!

Authors: Sara Plassnig, Research Assistant, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA),
Luca Nizzetto, Senior Researcher,
Emmy Nøklebye, Research Scientist,