Governments and consumer goods groups increasingly accept the need for action to clean up the quantities of plastic littering the oceans and reduce the amount of stuff entering the system. A UN resolution passed last week, backed by more than 200 countries, is helpful as far as it goes. Although voluntary and vague, it provides a framework for collective action in which governments could make binding commitments. However, concrete actions taken are but a small start to tackling the problem. Multinationals, under pressure from campaigners, are announcing a jumble of voluntary initiatives. Coca-Cola and Unilever aim to make all packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. Procter & Gamble is marketing some of its brands in bottles made from fully recycled "ocean plastic". No one should be under the illusion that initiatives like these will make the difference. For years now, consumer goods groups and retailers have been trying to make their packaging more environmentally friendly. Unlike...

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