Global initiative of 290 companies to end plastic waste

UK charity Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme have led an initiative of more than 290 companies to end plastic waste pollution.

Companies including Veolia, Suez, H&M, Nestle, Philips, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, L’Oreal, Mars, WWF, Walmart and Johnson & Johnson have signed an agreement to reach long-term targets, which will be reviewed every 18 months.

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The targets include eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging and moving to a reusable packaging model, ensuring 100 per cent of plastic packaging can be recycled or composted by 2025, and increasing the amount of recycled or reused plastics used in new packaging or products.

More than $200 million has been pledged by five venture capital funds to help build the circular economy for plastics.

“We know that cleaning up plastics from our beaches and oceans is vital, but this does not stop the tide of plastic entering the oceans each year. We need to move upstream to the source of the flow,” Ellen MacArthur said in a statement.

“The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment draws a line in the sand, with businesses, governments and others around the world uniting behind a clear vision for what we need to create a circular economy for plastic.

“This is just one step on what will be a challenging journey, but one which can lead to huge benefits for society, the economy and the environment,” she said.

Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said the Global Commitment is an urgently needed step-change to move from a linear economy to a circular one.

“We want to act and lead by example. We will do our part to ensure that none of our packaging, including plastics, ends up in the natural environment,” Mr Schneider said.

Industry, government and community tackle plastic waste

Industry giants, community groups and government bodies came together to tackle the issue of plastic packaging waste in Australia.

Consumer goods manufacturers Coca Cola, Danone, Unilever and Kellogg’s, tech companies Fuji Xerox and Dell, supermarkets Coles and Aldi and senior figures from the NSW Environment Protection Authority met with local community groups to discuss the future of plastic packaging in consumer goods.

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The event was hosted by the Boomerang Alliance with the support of Bloomberg Australia, and examined the infrastructure holes that need to be filled in order to improve Australia’s capacity for waste collection, processing and recycling.

Representatives from Clean Up Australia, Responsible Cafes, Bye Bye Plastic, Planet Ark, Close the Loop and the local Sydney councils of Randwick, Waverly and Inner West Councils also added to the discussion.

A guest panel of speakers shared their expertise and included Australian Packaging Covenant CEO Brooke Donnelly, Waste Management Association Australia CEO Gayle Sloan, Founder of BioPak Richard Fine, and Nature’s Organics CEO Jo Taranto.

Ms Sloan said every council’s waste management has the same definition in their contracts regarding what’s recyclable.

“We have conveyors and depending on the money and infrastructure available, they’ll use infrareds to split out the different types of plastics,” she said.

Most material recovery facilities do this but at a cost and we don’t have enough people buying back [the recycled material]. That’s the problem.”

Mr Fine said it is important that companies are marketing their products as compostable get certified to a recognised standard.

“There’s a lot of greenwashing out there providing vague claims of ‘biodegradable’ which is confusing the consumer and damaging the industry as a lot of these products will simply break down and fragment into small pieces,” he said.

Pictured left to right: Richard Fine, Brooke Donnelly, Justin Dowel, Jo Toranto, Gayle Sloan, Jayne Paramor.

ACOR calls for more recycled packaging after plastic bag ban

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) has called on large Australian brands to commit to using recycled content in their packaging as Coles and Woolworths phase out single-use plastic bags.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said the move to stop supplying plastic bags in supermarkets is a good step, but a bigger move for the environment and economy is ensuring recycled content material is used for packaging.

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“Giving consumers a chance to buy recycled content products has more benefits than bag bans, and survey work shows more than 80 per cent of Aussies support such a move. Ministers can do more to encourage recycled content in packaging at their next discussion about the China crisis,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Putting recycled content into Australian packaging creates domestic demand for collected material and that drives investment and jobs in remanufacturing into new products, and lower risk for Councils’ kerbside recycling collections.”

“At present, Coles appears to have a voluntary target of 5 per cent of products sold having recycled content. It’s unclear what Woolworths’ target is.”

Mr Shmigel said it would be great if both companies announced what their targets are for recycled content going into the future.

“Without recycled content and other measures to make recycling sustainable, we are ‘pushing’ material out and not ‘pulling’ it through. It just shifts more costs to local governments for recycling services. If we can’t get progress through voluntary measures, the community is right to expect regulation to get it done, as is the case in Europe,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Coca-Cola is showing what can be done. Mount Franklin water bottles are all made with recycled content plastic, and they are looking at switching 50% of all their bottles to recycled content,” he said.

Coca-Cola announces World Without Waste vision

Coca-Cola has announced a goal to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally by 2030.

The plan will be executed by the company in collaboration with its global network of bottling partners, part of a plan called “World Without Waste”.

It will hone in on the entire packaging lifecycle – from how bottles and cans are designed and made, to how they’re recycled and repurposed.

“Consumers around the world care about our planet. They want and expect companies like ours to be leaders and help make a litter-free world possible,” said James Quincey, president and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company.

“Through our ‘World Without Waste’ vision, we are investing in our planet and in in our packaging to help make the world’s packaging problem a thing of the past.”

Mr Quincey, who heads to Davos, Switzerland next week for the World Economic Forum annual meeting, said the company will continue to focus on developing 100-percent recyclable packaging and reducing the amount of plastic in its bottles.

Coca-Cola is not the only company with sustainable packaging goals. McDonald’s has set a 2025 target for 100 per cent of its guest packaging to come from renewable, recycled or certified sources. As of 2017, 50 per cent of McDonald’s guest packaging has come from renewable, recycled or certified sources. In 2018, McDonalds plans to eliminate foam packaging from its global system.