PLASTICS

GLOBAL ALLIANCE FORMED TO END PLASTIC WASTE IN THE ENVIRONMENT

‘Alliance to End Plastic Waste’ to invest $1.5 billion in the next five years to address the issue

PLASTICS

An alliance of global companies from the plastics and consumer goods value chain have launched a new organisation mid-January to promote solutions to eliminate plastic waste in the environment, especially in the ocean.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) currently made up of about 30 members that include BASF, Berry Global Inc., Dow, ExxonMobil, Henkel, LyondellBasell, PolyOne, Procter & Gamble, Reliance Industries, SABIC, SUEZ and Veolia has committed over $1.0 billion with the goal of investing $1.5 billion over the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment.

The Alliance says it will develop and bring to scale solutions that will minimise and manage plastic waste and promote solutions for used plastics by helping to enable a circular economy. The membership represents global companies and located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

“Everyone agrees that plastic waste does not belong in our oceans or anywhere in the environment. This is a complex and serious global challenge that calls for swift action and strong leadership. This new alliance is the most comprehensive effort to date to end plastic waste in the environment,” said David Taylor, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Procter & Gamble, and chairman of the AEPW. “I urge all companies, big and small and from all regions and sectors, to join us,” he added.

“History has shown us that collective action and partnerships between industry, governments and NGOs can deliver innovative solutions to a global challenge like this,” said Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, and a Vice Chairman of AEPW. “The issue of plastic waste is seen and felt all over the world. It must be addressed and we believe the time for action is now.”

AEPW is a non-profit organisation that includes companies that make, use, sell, process, collect, and recycle plastics. This includes chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters, and waste management companies, also known as the plastics value chain. The organisation says it has been working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as a founding strategic partner. AEPW also revealed an initial set of projects and collaborations that reflect a range of solutions to help end plastic waste:

Partnering with cities to design integrated waste management systems in large urban areas where infrastructure is lacking, especially those along rivers which transport vast amounts of unmanaged plastic waste from land to the ocean. This work will include engaging local governments and stakeholders, and generate economically sustainable and replicable models that can be applied across multiple cities and regions, the organisation said, adding that they will also be looking to collaborate with other programmes working with cities, such as Project STOP, which is working in Indonesia.

• Funding to support The Incubator Network by Circulate Capital and SecondMuse to develop and promote technologies, business models and entrepreneurs that prevent ocean plastic waste and improve waste management and recycling, with the intention of creating a pipeline of projects for investment, with an initial focus on South and Southeast Asia.

• Developing an open source, science-based global information project to support waste management projects globally with reliable data collection, metrics, standards, and methodologies to help governments, companies, and investors focus on and accelerate actions to stop plastic waste from entering the environment. AEPW said it will explore opportunities to partner with leading academic institutions and other organisations already involved in similar types of data collection.

• Creating a capacity building collaboration with intergovernmental organisations such as the United Nations to conduct joint workshops and training for government officials and community-based leaders to help them identify and pursue the most effective and locally-relevant solutions in the highest priority areas.

• Supporting Renew Oceans to aid localised investment and engagement. AEPW said the programme is designed to capture plastic waste before it reaches the ocean from the ten major rivers shown to carry the vast majority of land-based waste to the ocean. The initial work will support the Renew Ganga project, which has also received support from the National Geographic Society.

In the months ahead, AEPW said it will make additional investments and drive progress in four key areas:

• Infrastructure development to collect and manage waste and increase recycling;
• Innovation to advance and scale new technologies that make recycling and recovering plastics easier and create value from all post-use plastics;
• Education and engagement of governments, businesses, and communities to mobilise action; and
• Clean up of concentrated areas of plastic waste already in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste, like rivers, that carry land-based plastic waste to the sea.

“Success will require collaboration and coordinated efforts across many sectors – some that create near-term progress and others that require major investments with longer timelines. Addressing plastic waste in the environment and developing a circular economy of plastics requires the participation of everyone across the entire value chain and the long term commitment of businesses, governments, and communities. No one country, company or community can solve this on their own,” said Veolia CEO Antoine Frérot, a Vice Chairman of the AEPW.

Research by the Ocean Conservancy shows nearly 80 percent of plastic waste in the ocean begins as litter on land, the vast majority of which travels to the sea by rivers. One study estimates that over 90 percent of river borne plastic in the ocean comes from 10 major rivers around the world – eight in Asia, and two in Africa.

“While our effort will be global, the alliance can have the greatest impact on the problem by focusing on the parts of the world where the challenge is greatest; and by sharing solutions and best practices so that these efforts can be amplified and scaled-up around the world,” said Peter Bakker, President and CEO of World Business Council for Sustainable Development.