To date, much effort has been placed on quantifying plastic pollution and understanding its negative environmental effects, arguably to the detriment of research and evaluation of potential interventions. This has led to piecemeal progress in interventions to reduce plastic pollution, which do not correspond to the pace of emissions. For substances that are used on a global scale and identified as hazardous, there is a need to act before irreversible damage is done. For example, the history of dichlorodiphenyltrichloethane's (DDT) use has demonstrated that legacy chemicals with properties of persistence can still be found in the environment despite being first prohibited 50 years ago. Despite the growing evidence of harm, evidence to inform actions to abate plastic pollution lag behind. In part, this is because of the multifaceted nature of plastic pollution and understanding the connections between social, economic and environmental dimensions are complex. As such we highlight the utility of integrative systems approaches for addressing such complex issues, which unites a diversity of stakeholders (including policy, industry, academia and society), and provides a framework to identify to develop specific, measurable and time-bound international policies on plastic pollution and meet the ambitious yet necessary goals of the UN Plastic Treaty.

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