January 1, 2021
Addressing Single-Use Plastic Products Pollution Using a Life Cycle Approach
Publisher: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Author: Alison Watson
In response to the request by Member States at the Fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly in March 20191 , this report describes: a) actions taken by Member States to address single-use plastic products (SUPP) pollution and b) the full life-cycle environmental impacts of singleuse plastic products in comparison with their alternatives. The Report includes results of LCA meta-analyses on SUPP and their alternatives, an elaboration on a variety of resources and mechanisms related to actions to address SUPP pollution, as well as country-level case studies on policy development presented by a selection of Member States. The development of this Report was supported through a four-part webinar series hosted by UNEP in October 2020. A summary of recommendations from the LCA meta-studies, as well as key findings from the country-specific case studies on actions implemented by Member States is set out below. A critical finding, however, of this work is that "single-use" is more problematic than "plastic". Therefore, Member States are encouraged to support, promote and incentivize actions that lead to keeping resources in the economy at their highest value for as long as possible, by replacing single-use plastic products with reusable products as part of a circular economy approach. This will require systems change.