Some big financial firms and groups like the Alliance to End Plastic Waste say that a global plastics treaty could help attract investments to deal with waste and environmental challenges.
With talks on a treaty set to start Feb. 28 at a major United Nations environmental conference in Kenya, social investment funds backed by the plastics industry, like AEPW and Circulate Capital, are arguing that a treaty could push new government policies worldwide that make green investment more viable.
There are dollars-and-cents challenges right now that make it harder for investors to justify putting money into waste management and recycling, they say.
Market volatility, underfunded waste management systems around the world and a disconnect between demand for recycled content and the available supply create very challenging conditions, said Ellen Martin, chief impact officer for Singapore-based Circulate Capital.
"All of these factors combine to create greater risk," she said. "It really scares a number of investors. I think policy plays a critical role in de-risking and unlocking investment."
In another treaty development, the push for an agreement picked up steam with a joint announcement late Feb. 11 from United States and France, calling for a treaty that would “address the full life cycle of plastics.”
Environmental groups praised that new language, suggesting it represented a stronger commitment from the U.S. government around what the treaty could cover. The U.S. Secretary of State had endorsed the idea of a plastics treaty in a speech in November.
A Feb. 11 statement from environmental groups said Canada and South Korea also signed on to similar language at an ocean summit this week.
“After being one of a handful of countries actively opposing a plastic treaty under the Trump Administration, it is very encouraging to see this turnaround [for the U.S. government],” said John Hocevar, ocean campaign director for Greenpeace USA.