We endorse the global commitment to eliminate plastic pollution

By Andy Kenworthy

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) has become an official endorser for The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) has become an official endorser for The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UN Environment.

It aims to eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and move away from single-use packaging. It supports innovation to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted by 2025. Signatories include companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally. They include well-known consumer businesses: Danone; H&M group; L’Oréal; Mars Incorporated; PepsiCo; The Coca-Cola Company; Unilever; major packaging producers such as Amcor; plastics producers including Novamont; and resource management specialist Veolia.

It is also supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). It is endorsed by the World Economic Forum, and 40 universities, institutions and academics. More than 15 financial institutions with in excess of $2.5 trillion in assets under management have also endorsed it. More than US$200 million has been pledged by five venture capital funds to create a circular economy for plastic.

The New Zealand government has signed on, and SBN has joined a worldwide network of official endorsers of the process. Already SBN members New Zealand King Salmon, The Better Packaging Co., Earthwise and ecostore have all made the commitment.

SBN has been working on the circular economy for the past four years. It has created the Circular Economy Accelerator (CEA) to speed up this necessary transition.

James Griffin leads the CEA.

He says: “The Global Commitment is a powerful signal that there is a worldwide shift going on in our relationship to plastic and how we work with it. It’s exciting to see the speed with which the momentum is building. We anticipate that many more of our members will be taking part.”

CEA is about to release the results from the first diagnostic study of New Zealand’s plastic packaging system. It is backed by some of the largest users of plastic packaging in the country. It will provide an overview of the issues and identify areas where radical improvements can be made.

“We don’t need to get plastics completely out of our systems,” says James. “But we urgently need to get them into a system that keeps them in circulation and not discarded into our environment.”

The commitment was also the subject of an open letter published in the Financial Times. This was signed by Ellen MacArthur, Erik Solheim (UN Environment), HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, FVP Frans Timmermans (EU Commission), Ian Cook (CEO Colgate-Palmolive), Emmanuel Faber (CEO Danone), Stella McCartney, Gonzalo Munoz (TriCiclos/Sistema B), Julie Packard (Monterey Bay Aquarium), Paul Polman (CEO Unilever), Wendy Schmidt (Schmidt Family Foundation), Pavan Sukhdev (WWF), and Dominic Waughray (World Economic Forum).