Read the new Nordic report on Sustainability Criteria here

The Nordic Report: Possible elements of a new global agreement to prevent plastic pollution

The Nordic Report from 2020 suggests elements and approaches for a new global agreement, covering the whole life cycle of plastics.

Published 19.01.21

A global agreement

The international community has made numerous calls for the development of a new global agreement on marine plastic litter. In 2019, the Nordic countries, the Caribbean countries, the Pacific Islands, the European Union, and the African Group – representing over 110 countries in total – all issued public statements in support of exploring a global agreement.

To find more information about countries’ support for a new global agreement, see WWF’s Global Plastic Navigator

Key components of the report

The report argues that a new global agreement must go beyond simply closing the gaps in the current global and regional law and policy frameworks. Prevention of plastic pollution should be the primary objective. A new agreement needs to offer a comprehensive strategy for prevention and promote more sustainable management of plastics across the entire value chain. The report also shows that a global agreement can assist countries to address plastic pollution by providing several suggestions for tools to regulate plastic products. A global agreement on plastic will help countries to address plastic pollution through production, design, retail, consumption, waste management, and recycling.

Key operational mechanisms

The report introduces three key operational mechanisms that could form the global commitment in a new agreement:

1. National Plastics Management Plans

The NPMPs could be tailored to meet specific national needs and circumstances for developing and implementing national policies across the life cycle of plastics. The NPMPs enhance national opportunities to design a holistic and comprehensive approach covering all sources and relevant sectors.

Read more about the National Plastics Management Plans.

2. International sustainability criteria

Measures to address life cycle phases can be facilitated through the development of international sustainability criteria for plastics, supported by standards, testing protocols, and certification schemes. The criteria would apply to economic activities along the value chain of plastics, to incentivise reusability, repairability, and recyclability of products.

Read more about international sustainability criteria

3. National Plastics Sustainability Standards

International sustainability criteria for plastics and their additive scan be given effect at the national level through the development of national standards that fulfil the international objectives. They can include regulations to minimise the use of products that do not meet the standards, or incentivise design change through market-based instruments to promote the development of new products that meet the national design standards.


For more information about the report, go to 


Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon,