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Natural Polymers Group urges bio-based material recognition ahead of INC-3

#Natural Polymers Group urges bio-based material recognition ahead of INC-3

10 Nov 2023 — Seven leading packaging companies from the US, Europe and India have formed a coalition called Natural Polymers Group (NPG) to push the UN Global Plastics Treaty negotiators to acknowledge natural polymer materials as a critical tool in the fight against plastic pollution.

The coalition focuses on scaling natural polymer solutions derived from plants and seaweeds to replace traditional plastics. Companies involved, such as Notpla, Loliware, Traceless, Xampla, MarinaText, Zerocircle and PlantSea, are championing these alternatives as circular and regenerative solutions to tackle plastic waste.

This move comes just ahead of the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) in Nairobi, Kenya. This session will develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, especially in marine environments.

The Natural Polymers Group has outlined three key policy endorsements. These include the call for a global definition of plastic and non-plastic substitutes, expanded circularity criteria recognizing natural polymers’ end-of-life benefits, and implementing robust policies and incentives to phase out unnecessary plastics.

“We have come together to demonstrate the enormous potential for naturally sourced materials to transform industries reliant on conventional and single-use plastics,” says Pierre Paslier, co-founder of Notpla. “Our group will be the voice of this emerging industry and accelerate the adoption of natural polymers across many sectors and applications.”

seaweedThe coalition focuses on scaling natural polymer solutions derived from plants and seaweeds to replace traditional plastics. “Pivotal chance”
The coalition stresses the urgency for policymakers to seize the opportunity to support natural solutions as a primary method to reduce plastic waste and pollution rather than relying solely on recycling or reusing plastic.

“We believe that natural materials that have existed for millions of years are the answer to the next generation of sustainable packaging materials. Natural polymers have been traditionally used in material applications like cotton, beeswax and uncoated paper. In recent years, novel technologies have been developed, marking a new generation of nature-based non-plastic materials that can replace conventional plastics (for example, synthetic fossil fuel-based polymers) and bioplastics,” they write in their manifesto.

“We believe that the current emphasis on recycling and reusing plastics is insufficient to address the plastic pollution crisis. While these strategies have some benefits, they also encourage the continuous production of plastics and the ongoing risk of environmental leakage. Therefore, recycling and reuse approaches cannot and will not solve the problem by themselves.”

The coalition invites other businesses, researchers and NGOs to join their mission as they gear up for the INC-3 session. The primary objective remains the urgent recognition of natural polymers in the global strategy to combat plastic pollution.

“The global treaty underway is a pivotal chance to coordinate ambitious action to address the plastic crisis. We urge policymakers to leverage this opportunity to support natural solutions as the key solution to avoid plastic waste and pollution altogether, rather than relying solely on recycling or reuse of plastic,” stresses Paslier.

By Radhika Sikaria

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