What to expect from this week’s UN plastic treaty talks

By Ellie Borst | 04/22/2024 01:31 PM EDT

The focus is on the U.S., which has resisted enforceable actions on plastic production limits and restrictions on certain dangerous chemicals.

Litter and debris blanket the shoreline in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

Litter and plastic debris blanket the shoreline in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, on March 10, 2022. Negotiators from around the world are gathering next week to discuss plastic pollution goals. Odelyn Joseph/AP

Nearly 180 nations will convene in Ottawa, Canada, over the next week in hopes of making progress on a long-stalled United Nations treaty on plastic pollution.

All eyes are on the U.S.: It’s one of the world’s biggest contributors to plastic waste, and it has remained ambivalent on multiple key issues holding up negotiations.

This week’s meetings mark the fourth of five rounds of planned negotiations before the end of 2024, the deadline nations set when they first agreed to enter talks in 2022.


Jose Fernandez, the State Department’s undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment, will lead the U.S. delegation. He will be joined by John Thompson, deputy assistant secretary for environment for the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, who led the delegation during the most recent round of negotiations.