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The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment draws ‘a line in the sand’

Signatories representing 290 organizations sign the Ellen MacArthur Foundation-led initiative to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source.

The Ellen McArthur Foundation is leading The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.
The Ellen McArthur Foundation is leading The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

A global commitment to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source has been signed by 290 organizations, 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 being led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with UN Environment and was officially unveiled today at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali.

Signatories include companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally. They include well-known consumer businesses such as Danone, H&M group, Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc., L’Oréal, Mars, Inc., PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, and Unilever; major packaging producers such as Amcor, Constantia Flexibles, Greiner, Mondi, and Sealed Air; plastics producers, including NatureWorks and Novamont; and resource management specialist Veolia. (See a full list of signatories.)

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 organization representing some 400 retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries), and 40 universities, institutions, and academics. More than 15 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 will 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.

Targets include:

  • 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.

Said Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “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.”

Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International, said, “The plastics crisis can only be solved with the combined efforts of all key players in the system. The World Wide Fund for Nature’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 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.”

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. Those governments that sign the commitment pledge to put in place policies and enabling conditions to support the Global Commitment’s targets and vision.

Said UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim, “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.”

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