China, EU and UK commit to circular plastics trade and aim of improving plastic recycling


Ministers from a number of World Trade Organisation member countries have committed to developing a circular economy for plastics.

They also want to improve the recovery and recycling of waste plastics.


In a statement produced by ministers representing Australia, Canada, China, European Union, Japan, Norway, Russia, UK and others, they acknowledged the importance of trade in combatting plastic pollution.

The also noted that trade in plastic products is worth around $1 trillion per year and represents 5% of all world trade.

In the statement, the ministers said actions would be developed including: “Identifying ways to improve the understanding of global trade in plastics, including flows of plastics embedded in internationally traded goods or associated with them (such as plastic packaging), and enhance transparency regarding trade policies relevant to reducing plastic pollution and more environmentally sustainable plastics trade.”

They would also develop trade related capacity building including efforts to:

– move towards more circular plastics economies;
– improve the environmentally sound management, recovery and recycling of plastics;
– facilitate access to key technologies;
– expand trade in environmentally sustainable and effective substitutes and alternatives;
– encourage collaboration with the relevant stakeholders through, inter alia, the exchange of knowledge and experience relating to the development of and access to environmentally sustainable and effective (including cost and functionally effective) substitutes and alternatives to single-use plastics;
– develop and strengthen local capacities to produce environmentally sustainable and effective substitutes and alternatives to single-use plastics; and
– design and implement trade policies to address plastic pollution. 

The Minister also agreed to co-operated on developing definitions, standards, design and labelling for plastics to aid international recognition of how to dispose of them sustainably. This would include working with the International Organisation for Standardisation and the Basel Convention.

They would also further investigate and share experiences on environmentally sustainable waste management technologies, reused and recycled plastics, incentivising reuse and recycling of plastics and identifying substitute materials.

The full list of signatories to the ministerial statement was: Australia; Barbados; Cabo Verde; Cambodia; Cameroon; Canada; Central African Republic; Chad; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; European Union; Fiji; The Gambia; Hong Kong, China; Iceland; Jamaica; Japan; Kazakhstan; Macao, China; Morocco; New Zealand; Norway; Panama; Peru; Philippines; Russian Federation; Switzerland; Thailand; United Kingdom; and Vanuatu.

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