Large pile of plastic waste

Assessing plastic policies around the world

Developing sustainable, evidence-based solutions

Plastics have been found in every location that has been surveyed, from the depths of the ocean to the heights of the Himalayas — and even in human blood.  

And plastic has another, less visible, environmental impact — climate change. Seventeen million barrels of oil are used for plastic production each year. With the anticipated growth in the plastics sector, by 2050 production and disposal will be responsible for up to 13 per cent of the world’s total “carbon budget” of greenhouse gas emissions. Plastic pollution is also reducing the resilience of communities and the natural world to cope with the effects of a changing climate.

Plastic pollution is a global, transboundary problem requiring urgent coordinated policy action on all levels, from local to international. 


Addressing the plastic problem

Around the world, many countries and businesses have adopted measures to reduce plastic pollution, including banning certain plastic items such as bags or straws, introducing better waste collection, sorting and recycling facilities, and introducing taxes to discourage the use of certain plastics in products. But it’s not enough to look at interventions in isolation. The entire lifecycle of plastics must be considered holistically to identify sustainable solutions. 

To do so, evidence-based analysis of plastics policies is needed to help policy-makers and decision-makers successfully tackle plastic pollution and its effects on people and the planet. And this is exactly what the Global Plastics Policy Centre aims to achieve.


Visit the Global Plastics Policy Centre website


Current policies to tackle plastics

We’ve found that the existing plastic policy landscape often addresses specific plastic products or stages within the plastic lifecycle in an isolated way that inhibits joined-up approaches to tackle the plastic problem. 

Currently there are no global agreements that offer an all-encompassing framework for plastics sustainability. But the commitment from 175 nations to end plastic pollution, agreed at the UN Environment Assembly in March 2022, offers a pathway for a legally-binding agreement to be in place by 2024. The Global Plastics Policy Centre is playing a key role in generating evidence to inform the agreement and its subsequent implementation.


What is the Global Plastics Policy Centre?

The Global Plastics Policy Centre is the first of its kind. It’s designed to give governments and industry groups the evidence needed to make better decisions on plastic policies. It’s one of the core research centres of the University’s Revolution Plastics Institute.

Focused on positive change, the Centre analyses plastic policies as they are developed around the world. It provides a central point for information, effectiveness and barriers to plastics policy success. We aim to convene a global community around plastics policy.

In July 2022 the Centre launched an online platform with resources, case studies and videos to showcase effective practice in plastic policy. Our researchers believe this unique resource will ultimately help reduce the negative impacts of plastics.


News from the Centre

INC-2: How close are we to a global plastics treaty?

Listen to our podcast, where Professor Steve Fletcher and Antaya March from the University's Global Plastic Policy Centre unpack what was agreed at INC-2 and look at the road ahead for the global plastics treaty.
Life Solved Podcast Episode 99
Listen now

New single-use plastic ban takes effect in England – here’s why its impact may be limited

The new ban will raise awareness about the plastic crisis. But failing to provide viable alternatives may simply displace the problem, instead of addressing it.
Revolution Plastics team obtained these images for research.
Read more

Modelling solutions to end plastic pollution: Driving systems change across the plastic life cycle

Prof Steve Fletcher joined a UNEP webinar to share an overview of the methodology and findings from recent research on plastics policy.
Landfill site with plastics in Europe
Read more

Research outputs

  • Global Policy Review

    We’ve independently reviewed over 150 plastics policies and initiatives from around the world, including bans on single use plastics, incentives such as subsidies/tax rebates, regulations on recycling and waste management. Each policy has been scored against criteria to determine its effectiveness and to identify barriers to progress. In light of this evidence, we offer recommendations to enhance future policy making.

  • Turning off the Tap: How the world can end plastic pollution and create a circular economy

    Antaya March, Dr Keiron Roberts and Prof Steve Fletcher from the Global Plastics Policy Centre were the lead authors on this report. It was commissioned by UNEP to inform the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations.

  • Policy Briefs and submissions to the Global Plastics Treaty process

    Focusing on select “hot topics” from the treaty negotiations, our policy briefs bring together key evidence from various data sources to shed light on each topic and aid the countries in their decision making journey. Published around each Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) meeting, the first looked at the Effectiveness of National Action Plans, and the second highlighted the policy enablers for reuse in the Treaty. You can track our treaty-based research, the progress of the negotiations, and updates from each meeting here.

  • Working with arts based methods to amplify stakeholder voices and inform policy

    We're working with stakeholders to use their lived experiences to inform the development of the Global Plastics Treaty and national level policy. The first was a piece of legislative theatre highlighting the challenges that informal waste pickers face and what an effective plastics treaty should consider to ensure their needs are met.



The Global Plastics Policy Centre is supported by the Flotilla Foundation, the UN Environment Programme, the World Bank, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).


Contact us

For further information about the work of the Centre, please contact

Interested journalists can contact the University's Media and Communications team for support and advice on all media engagement.