Giulia Carlini and Konstantin Kleine, ‘Advancing the International Regulation of Plastic Pollution beyond the United Nations Environment Assembly Resolution on Marine Litter and Microplastics’ (2018) 27 Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law 234–244
Plastic pollution has received growing recognition as an issue of global concern, including the question of how to regulate it at the international level. Despite the existence of many instruments relevant to marine plastic litter, there is no international agreement that focuses primarily on combating plastic pollution. While the annual global rate of plastic production is growing, no international instrument is addressing plastic across its full life cycle, from production to consumption to disposal. This article describes the role of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) and the evolution of its resolutions on marine plastic pollution. UNEA’s latest resolution on marine litter and microplastics is paving the way for the global community to improve the current international framework and address the ‘plastic crisis’. This opens questions on the approach and scope of a new framework. The article suggests that framing the problem as one of ‘marine litter’ limits the scope of possible solutions to waste management. Reframing the subject from a marine litter problem to a broader plastic pollution issue presents an opportunity to develop a comprehensive approach and, therefore, a more effective global framework that encompasses not only plastic litter, but also the reduction of plastic production and consumption.