Navigating the Global Plastics Treaty: Challenges and opportunities for sustainable packaging

As a leading manufacturer of verified rPET packaging, AVI Global Plast has a strong interest in the ongoing global negotiations by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), aimed at establishing a legally binding treaty to combat plastic pollution. Following the conclusion of the third round of talks last month, now is an apt time to analyse the implications for responsible packaging production.

At the heart of the Global Plastics Treaty lies the world’s deepening plastic waste crisis. However, single-use protective plastic packaging remains indispensable for ensuring food safety across global supply chains. This presents a dilemma for policymakers – how to promote circularity without compromising critical functionality.

So, how can UN Member States, currently engaged in negotiating this international agreement on plastics, effectively navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by the Global Plastics Treaty? Here’s our perspective.

Mandatory recycling targets and infrastructure investment

Around 140 countries support legally enforceable recycling goals as one of the solutions to plastic pollution, which AVI wholeheartedly welcomes. India itself recycles over 90% of its PET waste, outperforming many developed economies, according to studies. However, the Global Plastics Treaty should also prioritise building digitised waste tracking systems and sorting facilities across high-leakage geographies globally.

Standardising food-contact and recycled content regulations

Creating policy incentives for recycled plastic adoption hinges on harmonising food-grade approvals worldwide. Comprehensive regulations on acceptable PCR (post-consumer recycled) levels for different applications will enable wider supply security. At AVI, our rPET punnets comply with EFSA and US FDA benchmarks for produce packaging. Global alignment of such standards will support resin producers with increased demand.

Rethinking design around reuse models

While most Global Plastics Treaty negotiations focus on waste management, true circularity requires a lifecycle view spanning production, use and after-use. As manufacturers of up to 100% rPET packaging, we have seen first-hand how PCR integration, downgauging, and packaging compositions with widely recycled materials can support a circular economy.

Policy emphasis must shift towards building recycling and reuse infrastructure before considering material restrictions. With prudent collaboration between producers, brands and end-users, single-use thermoformed packaging, for instance, can also evolve to serve multi-cycle applications through tray-to-tray recycling.

Opportunities amidst transitions

The Global Plastics Treaty undoubtedly signals challenging business transitions ahead. However, it equally presents packaging companies with opportunities for leadership through strategic investments. Advancing recycling and traceability capabilities while reimagining delivery models will define the competitive edge going forward.

At AVI, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12, titled ‘responsible consumption and production’, has been integral since the company’s inception decades ago. We are ready with rPET thermoformed packaging verified by Intertek and ISCC PLUS with end-to-end traceability, and look forward to integrating certified ocean-bound plastic into our supply chain. With the right product and process innovations, concerned stakeholders across the plastics value-chain can unite to restore balance throughout its lifecycle.

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