Nearly 300 companies agree to eradicate plastic waste at its source
A global commitment to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source has been signed by over 290 organisations. Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), it was announced at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali (29-30 October).
Produced in collaboration with the UN Environment, the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment has drawn signatories from many of the world’s largest packaging producers, brands, retailers and recyclers, governments and NGOs. Together, they represent 20 per cent of all plastic packaging produced globally.
Dame Ellen MacArthur said: “We know that cleaning up plastics from our beaches and oceans is vital, but this does not stop the tide of plastic entering the oceans each year. We need to move upstream to the source of the flow. The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment draws a line in the sand, with businesses, governments and others around the world uniting behind a clear vision for what we need to create a circular economy for plastic.”
The commitment has three main targets:
- To eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and move from single-use to reuse packaging models;
- To innovate to ensure 100 per cent of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled or composted by 2025; and
- To circulate the plastic produced by significantly increasing the amounts of plastics reused or recycled and made into new packaging or products.
The companies who have signed up include international giants such as Coca-Cola, Danone, H & M, Unilever, Mars and L’Oreal, to name just a few. The commitment hopes to create ‘a new normal’ for plastic packaging, with targets to be reviewed every 18 months and becoming increasingly ambitious. Businesses that have signed up will publish annual data on their progress to ensure transparency with the public and drive momentum.
With such a large commercial backing, EMF’s Global Commitment has the potential to change the statistic revealed in January’s Global Circularity Report: that only nine per cent of the world’s economy is circular.
EMF’s work on circular economy
EMF has been working on implementing a circular economy since its launch in 2010. In 2015, the foundation released its ‘delivering the Circular Economy’ toolkit, designed for policymakers wishing to make a transition from the linear to the circular economy.
Following the toolkit, EMF released its 2016 report, ‘The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics’, produced in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF). Here, EMF envisioned a new approach to plastic. This was based on creating ‘effective after-use pathways for plastic, drastically reducing leakage of plastics into natural systems...and decoupling plastics from fossil feedstocks.’
The report found that 95 per cent of the value of plastic packaging material is lost to the economy each year. This initiative from EMF stimulated 11 producers and retailers (such as Evian, Unilever and Coca-Cola) to announce or reaffirm pledges for circular economy plastic packaging.
EMF also held a Circular Materials Challenge, rewarding five innovative alternatives to plastic packaging with a $1-million circular economy prize at the World Economic Forum in January 2018.
To find out more about EMF and the Global Commitment, visit the EMF website.