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Policy Brief on a Consumer Label on Plastics and Plastics Substitutes

The United Nations (UN) Trade and Development has commissioned Apoorva Arya, CEO of Circular Innovation Lab, to formulate a policy brief on the parameters and requirements for an effective consumer label on plastics and plastics substitutes.


Mislabeling of plastic packaging, labelling inconsistencies and value chain losses associated with miscommunication between countries in Global South-South and North-South relations, have been a pressing issue in mitigating plastic pollution globally. Therefore, this project aims to build upon existing efforts to establish clear labelling guidelines for plastic products, aligning with UN Trade and Development's work on Harmonized System (HS) codes and regional initiatives in East and West Africa to replace single-use plastics with sustainable alternatives. 


In alignment with the objectives of the International Labeling Committee (INC) and The World Trade Organization Dialogue on Plastic Packaging (WTO DPP), the policy brief aims to provide a comprehensive analysis that includes a thorough overview of how plastics are being labelled across countries and cases of mislabeling or false performance. As the outcome, a factsheet will ensure clear communication to consumers regarding the plastic content in packaging, ensuring that sustainable products are identified and their adoption is promoted while providing consumer protection.


  • Analysis of existing consumer labelling in the Global South 

  • Benchmarking of labelling from other sectors, such as energy labelling and nutrition labels, providing an analysis of best practices, differences and commonalities among them

  • Recommendations based on best practices and limitations for improving global labelling standards

  • Implementation strategy for the use of effective labelling schemes

  • A factsheet for clear communication about labelling to consumers


  1. Policy Analysis and Recommendations: The project will result in a detailed policy brief that includes an analysis of current labelling schemes in the Global South, identifies key challenges and gaps in the current practices, and provides actionable recommendations (also based on the examples set by other sectors: nutrition and energy efficiency). This brief will also feature an annexure with comparison tables of existing plastic policies in the Global South and with labelling policies in nutrition and energy efficiency to support policymakers in creating more effective labelling policies.

  2. Harmonization of Standards: Promoting international cooperation to harmonize labelling standards will help reduce inconsistencies and prevent greenwashing, ensuring that environmental claims on labels are credible and verifiable.

  3. Consumer Empowerment: By providing clear and reliable information about plastic products, the project aims to empower consumers to make informed decisions that support environmental sustainability and the circular economy.


  • Policy and Benchmarking Brief: A comprehensive document outlining the current labelling practices along with the parameters and requirements for effective consumer labels on plastics and their substitutes in the Global South.  It will also include mapping and benchmarking of current labelling practices across other sectors (nutrition and energy efficiency) (particularly focusing on the Global South) to provide best practices and lessons learned that can be applied to improve labelling policies for plastics. The brief will provide detailed policy recommendations to help unify and streamline packaging policies globally.

  • Annexure: An additional section accompanying the policy brief that includes comparison tables of global labelling schemes, commonalities, and differences in best practices across various countries, and a fact sheet on successful labelling policies.


Focus areas

In progress (timeline runs from May to the end of July 2024)

  • Plastics and plastics substitute labelling schemes in the Global South

  • Nutrition labelling

  • Energy efficiency labelling

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