Level of commitment to reducing plastic pollution revealed a year on from agreement

THE scale of worldwide efforts to lower the uses of plastic and combat plastic pollution has been revealed in a report released by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the UN Environment Programme.

The report comes a year on from the launch of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which invited companies to give their signatory of commitment to reaching goals such as eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastic packaging and all plastic packaging being 100% recyclable by 2025.

The recent report revealed that, of the over 400 companies to sign up to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, around 60% of them use plastic packaging that is reusable, recyclable or compostable today.

Furthermore, 70% of business signatories are eliminating single-use straws, carrier bags and black plastics, with 80% eliminating PVC from packaging.

Government signatories to the plan including France, Rwanda and Scotland as well as the cities of São Paulo and Austin are putting in place policy measures that include bans, public procurement, extended producer responsibility schemes, fiscal measures and incentives for research and development.

Sander Defruyt, New Plastics Economy lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said on the report, “Around the world, people are calling for businesses and governments to take action to stop plastic pollution. Leading businesses and governments stepped forward by signing the Global Commitment and we can now see promising early progress.

“This includes major commitments to reduce the use of virgin plastic, the introduction of reuse pilot projects, and unprecedented demand for recycled plastic in packaging. But there is a long way to go and it is crucial those efforts are accelerated and scaled, and more businesses and governments take action to eliminate plastic pollution at the source.”

Inger Andersen, UN environment programme executive director, added, “Addressing plastic pollution requires a fundamental system shift, from a linear to a circular economy for plastic, which is at the core of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. The 2019 Progress Report shows how leading businesses and governments are taking actions in such a systemic way, thus demonstrating this makes business and political sense.

“The benefits represent a huge opportunity, and the concerted approach leaves no excuses not to act. We need all actors to work together in the plastic pollution crisis: UN Environment Programme calls on all relevant businesses and governments to join the Global Commitment to fight against plastic pollution as part of the implementation plan ‘Towards a pollution-free planet’.”