Big brands pledge to turn tide on global plastic waste

Pablo Tucker
November 2, 2018

More than 290 companies and groups, including some of the world's largest consumer goods makers and plastics packaging firms, signed on to a plan October 29 from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to make their packaging much more environmentally friendly. "The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment draws a line in the sand".

The Global Commitment builds on the original goal of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy, which called on businesses and nations to recycle and re-use 70% of the world's plastic packaging. Five venture capital funds have also pledged more than $200 million to support the initiative.

Targets made by The Global Commitment will be reviewed every 18 months, and participating organisations will publish annual data on their progress to help drive momentum and ensure transparency.

An investigation by Greenpeace's Unearthed published last week also showed how plastic recycling from the United Kingdom and many other western countries has ended up in illegal waste sites in Malaysia as the country has become the world's main destination for plastic waste after China banned most imports of plastic scrap.

While packaging is not the only source of pollution, a third of all plastic produced goes into packaging. "In this way we can neutralize our environmental impact and, at the same time, do some good in communities that have excessive plastic pollution", adds Johnson.

A platform for the world to gather together to STOP Ocean plastic and alleviate poverty through a global recycling ecosystem, The Plastic Bank is globally recognized as one of the most important solutions to stop ocean plastic.

Julian Kirby, plastics campaigner of Friends of the Earth, an worldwide network of environmental organizations, said: "It's encouraging that more firms and governments are listening to public demands to curb plastic waste and are pledging to act".

Scientists estimate 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s, with nearly all of it made from non-renewable fossil fuels, and about 60% has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.

"Most efforts 'til now have been focused on cleaning up plastic pollution".

The World Economic Forum, The Consumer Goods Forum and 40 universities, institutions and academics have endorsed the Commitment. "To make a plastic-free world possible we have a collective responsibility, and it starts with businesses".

Nevertheless, some are concerned that the pledge is not ambitious enough. Just because something is recyclable, it doesn't mean it will actually be recycled. Corporations are not required to set actual targets to reduce the total amount of single-use plastics they are churning out.

World's leading companies aim to end plastic waste by 2025.

"Eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastic is key, whilst making sure that the plastic we do use, can be safely reused, recycled or composted".

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