In January 2016, the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with analytical support from McKinsey & Company, launched the report The New Plastics Economy – Rethinking the future of plastics at the World Economic Forum in Davos. For the first time, the research provides the vision of a global economy in which plastics never become waste.

The report, financially supported by the MAVA Foundation, was the result of a collaborative effort involving more than 40 participant companies and cities across the global plastic packaging value chain. It was produced as part of Project MainStream, a collaboration between the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with McKinsey & Company as a knowledge partner, and led by the CEOs of nine global companies.

The report acknowledges that, while plastics and plastic packaging are an integral part of the global economy and deliver many benefits, their value chains currently entail significant drawbacks.

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​The report finds that:

  1. Most plastic packaging is used only once; 95% of the value of plastic packaging material, worth USD 80-120 billion annually, is lost to the economy
  2. Plastic packaging generates negative externalities, valued conservatively by UNEP at USD 40 billion: given projected growth in consumption, in a business-as-usual scenario oceans are expected to contain more plastics than fish by 2050, and the entire plastics industry will consume 20% of total oil production, and 15% of the annual carbon budget
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In this context, an opportunity beckons for the plastics value chain to deliver better system-wide economic and environmental outcomes, while continuing to harness the benefits of plastic packaging.

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Rethinking the future of plastics


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