Financial companies are pushing for ambitious action against plastic pollution

A group of 160 financial companies urged governments on Friday to agree a treaty to end plastic pollution that would boost private sector action, ahead of the next round of global talks in Canada.

The fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-4) will take place in Ottawa next week to lay the groundwork for a possible deal before the end of the year.

Curbing the estimated 400 million tons of waste produced each year is a crucial part of efforts to protect biodiversity, with microplastics found everywhere from the mountainous Himalayas to staple foods and even human blood.

To help solve the problem, financial institutions, including Britain’s largest investor Legal & General Investment Management and Canadian pension investor CDPQ, called for a policy framework backed by binding rules.

As part of specific steps, the group called for the treaty to set a target for all public and private funding to be consistent with the goal of eliminating plastic pollution, similar to that in the Paris climate agreement and the Kunming-global biodiversity framework Montréal.

It also called on companies to assess and disclose plastic-related risks and opportunities; clearer plastic-related policies and targets from governments in areas such as waste generation and recycling; and that further private investment be focused on ending plastic pollution.

“A clear transition path set out in the Treaty will help attract large-scale financing for this enormous task of ending plastic pollution worldwide,” said Anne-Sophie Castelnau, global head of sustainability at ING, one of the signatories.

Steve Hardman, CEO of Plastic Collective, an NGO that designed the world’s first plastic waste reduction bond with Citi and the World Bank, welcomed the support but called on the business community to provide more financial solutions.

In January, the World Bank issued a $100 million bond to finance plastic reduction projects in Ghana and Indonesia. Investors are paid a rate tied to the plastic removal credits generated by the projects.