Plastics: A crisis of and for the food system
byANH Academy
Webinar or Seminar
| Agriculture, Environment, Food Safety, Food Environments, Food Systems, Nutrition, Planetary Health, Public Health
Date and Time
From: 12 June 2024, 15:30
To: 12 June 2024, 18:00
BST British Summer Time GMT+1:00
Country: United Kingdom
Open Full Event Plastics event



The Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy is co-organising a special session at the World Public Health Nutrition Congress, ‘Plastics: A crisis of and for the food system’ on Wednesday 12th June at 3:30pm at the University of Westminster, Marylebone campus. 

Food systems are a major driver of global plastic production and pollution, with wide-ranging inequitable effects on human and planetary health. Used extensively from farm to fork, plastics and the thousands of hazardous chemicals they contain, are driving staggering rates of environmental pollution that reverberate throughout society, ecosystems and food chains.

Drawing on the lived experiences of populations affected by this crisis, as well as scientists and policymakers working towards the UN-led Global Plastic Treaty, this session brings together diverse voices to demonstrate why the entire plastics lifecycle – from extraction and production, to use phase and end of life – deserves the close attention of the food and nutrition community.

The session will be followed by a social reception to foster continued discussion and connections.

The session will also be livestreamed without Q&A functions. If you'd like to watch it, please register using the information provided below.


Session information

The plastic crisis is existential for people and planet. Every minute, two truck loads of plastic enter our oceans, microplastics permeate soils and humans are exposed to hazardous chemicals from food packaging. Plastic pollution, in all its forms and across its entire life cycle, is responsible for countless human deaths and disease, disproportionately affecting disadvantaged communities and driving intergenerational effects.

The forces that drive the production and consumption of unhealthy, highly processed foods are matched in size and power by those that drive the production and consumption of plastics, with co-dependent business models and shared interests.

Despite the leading role of global food systems in driving plastic use, the unique vulnerabilities of food systems to plastic pollution, and the adverse human health impacts these contribute to, the issue remains insufficiently acknowledged and addressed among this large and ever growing community.

A global UN-backed treaty to end plastic pollution is due to be established by the end of 2024. This legally-binding treaty, currently under intense negotiations among 175 member states, is one of the most consequential multilateral environmental agreements to ever be pursued. Its implications for food systems and human health are fundamental.

Plastics: A crisis of and for the food system will bring together diverse voices to foster debate and demonstrate why this urgent problem deserves the attention of the food and nutrition community. From the fencelines of plastic production to the frontlines of political debate and the scientific communities working behind the scenes to provide robust evidence to guide negotiations, it will showcase critical research and lived experiences while critically exploring how food systems can be equitably transformed to for people and planet.

To learn more about food system plastics, read this policy brief recently published and prepared by the Scientists’ Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty.



  • Mengjiao (Melissa) Wang, Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter
  • Suzanne Smoke, Society of Native Nations
  • Marie-France Dignac, French National Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (INRAE)
  • Jane Muncke, Food Packaging Forum Foundation
  • Costas Velis, University of Leeds
  • Carlos Monteiro, University of Sao Paulo
  • Corinna Hawkes, Food Systems and Food Safety, FAO
  • Ayan Harare, Oxfam in Africa Climate Justice Lead, Oxfam International
  • Jacob Kean-Hammerson, Environmental Investigation Agency
  • Joe Yates, Agriculture, Nutrition & Health Academy; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
  • Megan Deeney, Agriculture, Nutrition & Health Academy; LSHTM



Participation for this session is open to both those registered for WPHNA Congress 2024 and also anyone who isn't. If you plan to come, but are not registered for WPHN Congress 2024, it is critical that you complete this short form so we can reserve a space for you. If you would like to watch the livestream please register as well.


Watch the livestream

This session will be livestreamed. If you can't make it to London, you can watch it by clicking the link below.

Please note that the livestream won't cover the Q&A session.

Watch the livestream here


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