International brands including Coca Cola and PepsiCo called for a global pact to combat plastic pollution that includes cuts in plastic production, a key growth area for the oil industry.
World officials will meet at the UN Environment Assembly in UNEA 5.2 later this year to begin negotiations on a treaty to tackle a plastic waste crisis that is choking landfills, despoiling oceans and killing wildlife.
It is not known whether a deal will focus on waste management and recycling or take tougher steps such as curbing new plastic production, a move that would likely face resistance from big oil and chemical firms and major plastic-producing countries like the United States.
More than 70 signatories to the joint statement include consumer goods companies such as Unilever and Nestle, which sell a variety of products in single-use plastic from shampoo to chocolate bars, as well as retailer Walmart and French bank BNP Paribas.
The statement said that any deal should reduce virgin plastic production and use, because we are at a critical point in time to establish an ambitious U.N. treaty. UNEA 5.2 is the most auspicious moment to change the tide on the global plastic pollution crisis. The statement said that we can't afford to miss it.
More than 10% of the plastics industry's plastics have struggled to combat the problem, according to a Reuters investigation last year.
The production of plastic, which is derived from oil and gas, is projected to double in the next 20 years. The rise of renewable energy and electric vehicles will make it a key source of future revenue for energy majors.
A landmark 2020 study by Pew Charitable Trusts found that scaling up global recycling is essential to tackling plastic waste, but these efforts won't prevent plastic pollution from skyrocketing without constraints on production.
As pressure mounts on firms that sell products in hard-to- recycle plastic to tackle the resulting waste, some have teamed up with cement makers to burn plastic waste as a cheap fuel in the developing world, according to a Reuters investigation last year.