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‘A line in the sand’ - Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches New Plastics Economy Global Commitment to eliminate plastic waste at source

October 29, 2018
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A Global Commitment to eliminate plastic waste and pollution at source has been signed by 250+ organisations, representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally. It was officially unveiled by Ellen MacArthur at the Our Ocean conference in Bali on 29th October.

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with UN Environment, and is signed by many of the worlds largest packaging producers, brands, retailers and recyclers, as well as governments and NGOs. Signatories include well-known consumer businesses such as Danone, H&M Group, L’Oreal, Mars, Incorporated, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, and Unilever; major packing producers such as Amcor; plastics producers including Novamont, and resource management specialist Veolia.

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.

Targets include to:

  • 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.

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.

- Dame Ellen MacArthur

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 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.

- Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International

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.

- Erik Solheim, ​Executive Director of UN Environment