Global, Multisector Commitments Aim to Eliminate Plastic Pollution at the Source

Elimination of problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging through redesign, innovation, and new delivery models is a priority

  • Reuse models are applied where relevant, reducing the need for single-use packaging
  • All plastic packaging is 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable
  • All plastic packaging is reused, recycled, or composted in practice
  • The use of plastic is fully decoupled from the consumption of finite resources
  • All plastic packaging is free of hazardous chemicals; and the health, safety, and rights of all people involved are respected.

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. 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 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 a Global Plastics Platform to support international efforts to tackle plastic pollution. UNEP 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.

“The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is the most ambitious set of targets we have seen yet in the fight to beat plastics pollution,” said UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim. “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.”

Additional brand commitments

Last week, Danone announced a series of new commitments and actions to ensure its packaging will become 100 percent circular, joining consumer goods giants including AB InBev, Henkel, LEGO and Unilever actively working to accelerate the global transition towards a circular economy of packaging.

“We believe the time is now to step up and accelerate, embrace our responsibility and work with others to engage a radical shift that will help free the world from packaging waste. We will be acting both at global and local level to ensure circularity of packaging becomes the new norm,” said Danone Chairman and CEO Emmanuel Faber. “Today, we are announcing a series of investments and commitments that — I believe — will have a concrete impact. These will be amplified as we collaborate with industry-peers, governments, NGOs, start-ups and the finance sector; harness new technologies and invest in new solutions.”

On Sunday, signatory SC Johnson announced its own new series of commitments around circular packaging, along with a partnership with the Plastic Bank — over the next year, SC Johnson and Plastic Bank will open eight recycling centers in Indonesia to help increase plastic recycling rates in impoverished communities while addressing the challenges of poverty.  Through The Plastic Bank’s blockchain-based “social plastic” recycling ecosystem, local waste collectors can bring the plastic they collect to any center, where they can exchange it for digital tokens that they can then use to buy needed goods and services.

“This partnership with SC Johnson is the first of its kind in Indonesia. It will help create more opportunities for people living in poverty and will offer waste collectors an important sense of pride,” said David Katz, Founder and CEO of Plastic Bank. “SC Johnson is the first CPG company to scale a program of this kind in Indonesia that will benefit a wide range of socio-economic demographics including local residents living below the poverty level.”

The first center officially opened in Bali on October 28, with all centers planned to be operational by May 2019.

By signing the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, J&J is committing to use more recycled materials in packaging, reduce reliance on the single-use model, and ensure that 100 percent of plastic packaging be reusable, recyclable or compostable via design, partnerships and investments by 2025.

“With this decision to accelerate our sustainability goals, Johnson & Johnson Consumer is acknowledging the ever-increasing urgency of the issue of plastic waste — and our own responsibility to work towards innovative solutions,” said Paulette Frank, Worldwide VP of Environmental Health, Safety & Sustainability at Johnson & Johnson.