A Global Commitment to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source has been signed by 250 organisations including many of the world’s largest packaging producers, brands, retailers and recyclers, as well as governments and NGOs.
The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with UN Environment, and will be officially unveiled at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali today [29 October 2018].
Signatories include companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally. They include well-known consumer businesses such as Danone; H&M group; L’Oréal; Mars, Incorporated; PepsiCo; The Coca- Cola Company; and Unilever; major packaging producers such as Amcor, plastics producers including Novamont, and resource management specialist Veolia.
The Global Commitment and its vision for a circular economy for plastic are supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and have been endorsed by the World Economic Forum, The Consumer Goods Forum (a CEO-led organisation representing some 400 retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries), and 40 universities, institutions and academics.
More than fifteen financial institutions with in excess of $2.5 trillion in assets under management have also endorsed the Global Commitment and over $200 million has been pledged by five venture capital funds to create a circular economy for plastic.
The Global Commitment aims to create ‘a new normal’ for plastic packaging. Targets will be reviewed every 18 months, and become increasingly ambitious over the coming years. Businesses that sign the commitment will publish annual data on their progress to help drive momentum and ensure transparency.
• Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and move from single-use to reuse packaging models
• Innovate to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted by 2025
• Circulate the plastic produced, by significantly increasing the amounts of plastics reused or recycled and made into new packaging or products
Eliminating unnecessary and problematic plastics is an essential part of the Global Commitment vision, and will make it easier to keep remaining plastics in the economy and out of the environment.
UN Environment, which leads the Global Partnership on Marine Litter and its Clean Seas Campaign, last month also launched the Global Plastics Platform to support international efforts to tackle plastic pollution.
It said it would use its convening power to drive engagement with the Global Commitment from governments and other key players. Governments that sign, pledge to put in place policies and enabling conditions to support the Global Commitment’s targets and vision.
“Ocean plastic is one of the most visible and disturbing examples of a plastic pollution crisis. The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is the most ambitious set of targets we have seen yet in the fight to beat plastics pollution. It sets out the steps businesses and governments must take if we are to find a solution to the root causes of plastic pollution and we urge all those working towards dealing with this global issue to sign it” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment.
Founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 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. This is just one step on what will be a challenging journey, but one which can lead to huge benefits for society, the economy and the environment. I encourage all businesses and governments to go further and embark on a race to the top in the creation of a circular economy for plastic. One in which this material never becomes waste or pollution.”
“The plastics crisis can only be solved with the combined efforts of all key players in the system. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)’s strategy in plastics is to advocate, amplify and accelerate a connected suite of initiatives for change; therefore we are working closely with other key organizations, such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, to convey a joint message on our ambitious joint commitments, and to develop the tools needed to achieve these in partnership with companies, civil society, governments and citizens. WWF therefore endorses the The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment as we consider it an important step forward to join the efforts of businesses and governments around the world towards system-wide solutions” said Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International.
Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.
More than 99% of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas and coal — all of which are non-renewable resources. If current trends continue, by 2050 the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption. If current trends continue, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
Plastic packaging is not the sole source of plastic pollution, however it is the biggest application of plastic, with about one third of all plastic produced going into packaging.
The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment Vision
At the heart of the Global Commitment is a vision of a circular economy for plastic, where plastics never become waste. Each signatory formally endorses the vision and the need to work towards achieving it. It is defined by six key points:
• Elimination of problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging through redesign, innovation, and new delivery models is a priority
• Reuse models are applied where relevant, reducing the need for single-use packaging
• All plastic packaging is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable
• All plastic packaging is reused, recycled, or composted in practice
• The use of plastic is fully decoupled from the consumption of finite resources
• All plastic packaging is free of hazardous chemicals, and the health, safety, and rights of all people involved are respected
About Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was launched in 2010 to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The Foundation works across key areas including insight and analysis, business and government, learning, systemic initiatives and communications.
The New Plastic Economy Initiative
Over the past four years, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative has rallied businesses and governments behind a positive vision of a circular economy for plastics. Its 2016 and 2017 New Plastics Economy reports captured worldwide headlines, revealing the financial and environmental costs of waste plastic and pollution. In the last year it has brought together 15 leading companies committed to work towards 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable plastic packaging by 2025.
About UN Environment
UN Environment is the leading global voice on the global environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.