Firms sign up to global commitment to tackle plastic packaging problem

Mindy Sparks
November 1, 2018

And while packaging, such as bottles, yoghurt pots and wrappers, is not the sole source of plastic pollution, it represents the biggest use of plastic.

Businesses will publish annual data on their progress.

"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", said Ellen MacArthur, founder of the United Kingdom -based Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Commenting on signing this document, the Vice-chancellor, Professor John G Hughes said: "As the VC of a University that's committed to Sustainability I'm delighted at the opportunity to endorse this latest campaign to eliminate plastic pollution at source and to promote a circular economy approach to production and consumption".

The initiative, run by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UN Environment, received 250 signatures, including from the likes of Danone, L'Oréal, Mars Incorporated, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Pernod Ricard, and Nestlé.

While many solutions have been attempted to this end, they have largely met with limited success because a substantial number of the areas directly responsible for ocean plastics leakage are impoverished areas with limited infrastructure and security problems which make recyclers susceptible to robbery or theft if they are rewarded with cash.

The issue of ocean plastics is a global crisis, SC Johnson says: the equivalent of one dump truck load every minute enters the world's oceans, mainly from Asian countries. Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, tells Fast Company. More than $200m has been pledged by five venture capital funds to create a circular economy for plastic.

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.

"We are on the edge of a plastic precipice. Only by unifying countries and businesses all over the world we will be able to safeguard our land, rivers and seas for future generations".

The move was welcomed by environmental campaigners, Friends of the Earth.

The Global Commitment's vision for a circular economy will be supported by WWF, the World Economic Forum and the Consumer Goods Forum.

Around the world there has been investment and innovation, as well as community-led efforts, to clean up plastic pollution. Corporations are not required to set actual targets to reduce the total amount of single-use plastics they are churning out. "It is inspiring to be part of this transition to a circular plastic economy". By developing sustainable labeling options and partnerships, UPM Raflatac identified how it is supporting brand owners in eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging and moving towards their target of 100 percent of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

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