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Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution - Technical Resource for Pacific Island Courtiers

Fact Sheet: Abandoned, Lost and Otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear

(Publications under review and may be updated prior to 30 September)

Sea-based marine plastic pollution is roughly estimated to comprise around 20% of all marine plastic pollution and represents a major threat to marine ecosystems. However, sea-based marine plastic pollution has not been sufficiently addressed to date, representing a significant gap in global governance. Sea-based plastic pollution largely stems from shipping (35%), with an estimated share of 65% from the fishing sector.

Abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) is an ever-growing problem, impacting marine resources, wildlife and habitats. When fishing gear is lost, it continues to catch both target and non-target species – also known as ‘ghost-fishing’ – entangling and killing threatened and protected marine animals and commercially important fish species.

Lost gear also damages coral reefs and the seabed, while surface ALDFG presents a significant safety hazard for shipping and maritime activities, such as propeller entanglement. The existing governance framework to address fishing gear requires significant improvement due to the current fragmentation of laws and regulation across instruments – predominantly the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), in addition to a myriad of regional conventions and fisheries management bodies. In 2019, UN Environment published a report calling for the “development of a comprehensive global strategy to address ALDFG”, building on existing work and ensuring coordination across several key areas4. For this reason, member states have been discussing potential measures for addressing ALDFG within the negotiations for a new International Legally Binding Instrument (ILBI), with particular consideration for what ending plastic pollution ‘including in the marine environment’ could look like.

Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution - Technical Resource for Pacific Island Courtiers

Fact Sheet Designing Products and Systems for Safe and Sustainable Reuse

(Publications under review and may be updated prior to 30 September)

Reuse is a key component of the 3Rs + return (reduce, reuse and recycle) approach to reducing pollution but it has not yet been fully embraced in policy despite its reference in the Sustainable Development Goals. While it may appear as a new concept, before the advent of single-use plastics (SUP) traditional practices of reuse and refill were commonplace and are still a part of everyday life around the world. More recently, governments have recognised the impact of SUP products and imposed bans on specific items. However, this often leads to problematic alternatives and substitutes and perpetuates the take, make, dispose mentality. In reality, reuse comes higher up the waste hierarchy and deserves greater consideration by policymakers.

Comparing SUP and reusable packaging, reusable packaging is the more environmentally friendly option. The underlying logic is as simple as it is compelling: by using and reusing an item many times before it ends up as waste, the environmental costs, the amount of waste generated and the resources needed to produce and dispose of it can be divided by the number of uses. There are also significant opportunities for job creation. Deposit systems (not just specific to reuse) can create 11-38 times more job opportunities than other waste management alternatives. In this context the negotiations towards an International Legally Binding Instrument to End Plastic Pollution (ILBI) have included discussions on reuse as a pathway to reduce pollution. Reuse, if designed and defined correctly in the ILBI, has the potential to increase safe circularity and support the overall objective of ending plastic pollution.

Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution - Technical Resource for Pacific Island Courtiers

Plastics Treaty Legal Advisory Service Note: Key Principles

(Publications under review and may be updated prior to 30 September)

Note: This advice/paper is subject to the Plastic Treaty Legal Advisory Service Standard User Terms and Conditions available at
Any enquiries regarding this advice/paper should be sent to

This note identifies definitions and applications of the key principles set out in the UNEP Options Paper UNEP/PP/INC.2/4, that ‘the Committee [INC] may wish to consider’ in developing an internationally legally binding instrument (ILBI) on plastic pollution (Plastics Treaty).

The note highlights different ways of operationalising key principles, including considerations relevant to determining their role, content and impact in a Plastics Treaty. In this respect, it must be noted that all provisions within a treaty – including the preamble, objectives, governing principles, substantive provisions, and institutional framework – can be based on, include, reflect or operationalise specific principles and/or a human rights-based approach. However, the legal effects of a treaty provision will depend upon how it is phrased, including the category of provision to which it belongs. While a treaty’s preamble, for example, can inform the interpretation of the treaty as a whole it typically will not produce obligations in itself on the States party to the treaty. Therefore, if States desire to give a particular principle the fullest possible effect in a treaty, they should reflect the relevant principle in the substantive provisions of the treaty itself and phrase those provisions in such a way as to oblige parties to take concrete measures or actions aimed at realising to the fullest extent possible the specific principle.

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