Annual Trends in Plastics Policy: A Brief

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In 2020, the Plastics Policy Inventory and accompanying report, 20 Years of Government Responses to the Global Plastic Pollution Problem, were published, providing a baseline for the trends in government responses to the plastic pollution problem, as well as highlighting some gaps. Since that time, momentum has grown toward negotiation of an international agreement as a collective response to the problem, even as governments and resources have been strained by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This first brief builds upon the 2020 report and baseline by adding new data on national policy responses to plastic pollution from 2020 and 2021. Assessment of the more up-to-date policy inventory suggests that the twenty-year trend of an increase in the number of national policies introduced to reduce plastic pollution has stalled. While additional data on national policies may subsequently become available to revise these estimates, if confirmed they would suggest a pause in government responses to the problem, coinciding with the pandemic (though we cannot show causality). Our goal is for this brief to be the first in a regular series of annual updates on the trends in government responses to the global plastic pollution problem.

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