Women divide waste plastic into separate heaps.

Could the world agree a treaty on plastic pollution?

That’s the aim of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, which is holding its third meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

Speaking at the opening of the session on 13 November, Kenya’s President, William Ruto, said:

“To deal with plastic pollution, humanity must change. We must change the way we consume, the way we produce and how we dispose our waste. This is the reality of our world. Change is inevitable. This treaty, this instrument that we are working on, is the first domino in this change. Let us bring it home. Let the change begin.”

Describes as potentially the most important multilateral treaty since the Paris Agreement on climate change, the plastic pollution treaty is intended to develop a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastic.

In the words of Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP: “This means rethinking everything along the chain, from polymer to pollution, from product to packaging.” And also, she added, ensuring that we use, reuse, and recycle resources more efficiently and safely dispose of what’s left over.

To coincide with the summit, The Guardian published an article highlighting the work of Richard Thompson, the UK biologist who first identified microplastics 30 years ago.