BY: Michelle Liew

International brands including Coca Cola and PepsiCo are calling for a global alliance to be created to combat plastic pollution including reducing production of the substance.

Industry players will meet at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEA 5.2) conference later this year to begin negotiations on an agreement to tackle the plastic waste crisis that burdens landfills, damages oceans and kills wildlife.

However, it remains unclear whether any agreement will focus on waste management and recycling or take tougher measures such as curbing production which may face opposition from oil and chemical firms and major plastic producing countries such as the United States (US).

More than 70 parties signed a joint statement on Monday, including consumer goods companies such as Unilever and Nestle, which sell a range of products in disposable plastics from shampoo to chocolate bars as well as Walmart retailer and French bank BNP Paribas.

“We are at a critical moment to create an ambitious UN agreement,” according to the statement, which also clarified that any agreement should reduce the production and use of new plastics.

“UNEA 5.2 is a decisive moment, a good start for the global plastic pollution crisis. We cannot miss it,” he said.

Less than 10 percent of the plastic produced is recycled. Meanwhile, production of plastics derived from oil and gas, is projected to double in 20 years.

This is a major source of future revenue for the energy sector as demand for fossil fuels decreases with the increase in renewable energy and electric vehicles.

A Pew Charitable Trusts study in 2020 found that, while improving global recycling is essential to tackling plastic waste, the effort will not prevent pollution from continuing to soar without constraints in production.