Annual Trends in Plastics Policy: A Brief


In 2020, the Plastics Policy Inventory and accompanying report, 20 Years of Government Responses to the Global Plastic Pollution Problem, were published, providing a baseline for the trends in government responses to the plastic pollution problem, as well as highlighting some gaps. Since that time, momentum has grown toward negotiation of an international agreement as a collective response to the problem, even as governments and resources have been strained by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This first brief builds upon the 2020 report and baseline by adding new data on national policy responses to plastic pollution from 2020 and 2021. Assessment of the more up-to-date policy inventory suggests that the twenty-year trend of an increase in the number of national policies introduced to reduce plastic pollution has stalled. While additional data on national policies may subsequently become available to revise these estimates, if confirmed they would suggest a pause in government responses to the problem, coinciding with the pandemic (though we cannot show causality). Our goal is for this brief to be the first in a regular series of annual updates on the trends in government responses to the global plastic pollution problem.






Karasik, Rachel, Janet Bering, Madison Griffin, Zoie Diana, Christian Laspada, Jonathan Schachter, Yifan Wang, Amy Pickle, et al. (2022). Annual Trends in Plastics Policy: A Brief. Retrieved from



John Virdin

Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Division of Marine Science and Conservation

John Virdin is director of the Coastal and Ocean Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Virdin’s areas of expertise include assisting developing country governments to reform and strengthen their institutions responsible for ocean fisheries, thereby reducing poverty and enhancing sustainability, and creating policy and institutional frameworks governing a wide range of human activities that drive change in ocean ecosystems, including activities leading to the conversion or degradation of natural coastal habitats.

Virdin worked for more than 10 years at the World Bank, most recently as acting program manager for the Global Partnership for Oceans, a coalition of more than 150 governments, companies, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, and multi-lateral agencies. He advised the Bank on oceans and fisheries governance and helped it increase its lending for sustainable oceans to more than $1 billion. His work led to development of programs that provided more than $125 million in funding for improved fisheries management in six West African nations and some $40 million for fisheries and ocean conservation in a number of Pacific Island nations.

Prior to his tenure at the World Bank, Virdin worked with the World Resources Institute, the Munson Foundation, the World Conservation Network, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Virdin holds a master’s degree in environmental studies from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wake Forest University.  He will receive his doctorate in marine policy from the University of Delaware in 2015.

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