The global plastics treaty talks moved to a new phase Sept. 4, with the United Nations releasing a long-awaited first draft of language that's drawing concern and praise from all sides.
A coalition of global plastics groups, for example, said it was worried about an "absence of options" to accelerate plastics circularity.
Various environmental groups praised calls for "progressive reduction" in plastics manufacturing but warned against relying too much on voluntary national action, like in the Paris climate accord.
Treaty observers noted that the draft is only a starting point for diplomats ahead of the next formal negotiating session in November in Kenya.
And they pointed out that this initial language, called a "zero draft," had not been expected to resolve major disputes between countries that surfaced in the last session in June in Paris.
But the Global Partners for Plastics Circularity, which includes resin makers and the World Plastics Council, said it was a positive that the United Nations Environment Programme and its Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee moved quickly to write the draft, even if parts of it came up short.
"The Global Partners for Plastics Circularity appreciate UNEP and the INC chair's efforts in releasing an early zero draft of the global agreement on plastics," said Benny Mermans, chair of the World Plastics Council. "While we continue to review the document, we are concerned at the absence of options to accelerate and scale a circular economy for plastics.
"We look forward to continuing our engagement with governments to find practical solutions to help eliminate plastic pollution," said Mermans, who is also vice president of sustainability at Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.