Food and drink giants commit to reduce plastic pollution

By Noli Dinkovski contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Commitment pledges to create ‘a new normal’ for plastic packaging
The Commitment pledges to create ‘a new normal’ for plastic packaging
A global crackdown on plastic pollution through the creation of a circular economy has been signed by some of the world’s biggest food and drink companies.

Nestlé, Unilever, Danone, The Coca-Cola Company, and Pernod Ricard are among the 250 organisations to have joined the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

The Commitment pledges to create ‘a new normal’ for plastic packaging by eliminating problematic or unnecessary packaging and a move from single-use to reuse packaging models.

Those signed up to the Commitment have also agreed to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted by 2025. Any plastic produced is to be circulated, by significantly increasing the amount of plastics reused or recycled and made into new packaging or products.

Businesses will publish annual data on their progress. Targets, to be reviewed every 18 months, will become increasingly ambitious over the coming years.

Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with UN Environment, the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment was unveiled at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia, today (29 October).

20% of all plastic packaging

Signatories, which include many of the world’s largest packaging producers, brands, retailers and recyclers, represent 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally.

The Commitment is supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature, and it has been endorsed by the World Economic Forum, The Consumer Goods Forum, and 40 universities, institutions and academics. More than $200m has been pledged by five venture capital funds to create a circular economy for plastic.

Nestlé chief executive Mark Schneider said the Commitment was the “step-change”​ urgently needed to move from a linear to a circular economy.

“We want to act and lead by example,”​ he said. “Nestlé recognises the need for preventing packaging material ending up as waste. This is the rationale behind our goal to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.

As part of the Commitment, Danone pledged to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Emmanuel Faber, chairman and chief executive of Danone, said it was now time 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,”​ Faber said. “Today, we are announcing a series of investments and commitments that – I believe – will have a concrete impact.”

25% recycled content

PepsiCo timed the announcement to commit to use 25% recycled content in its plastic packaging by 2025 to coincide with the launch of the Commitment. The goal included an aim specific to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage bottles to achieve 33% recycled PET content by 2025.

“Our vision is to build a PepsiCo where plastics need never become waste,”​ said Dr Mehmood Khan, vice chairman and chief scientific officer at PepsiCo. “We intend to achieve that vision by reducing, recycling and reusing, and reinventing our plastic packaging – and leading global change through partnerships.”

Pernod Richard said it would meet the Commitment by moving towards a 100% usage rate for reusable plastic, recyclable or biodegradable packaging.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment drew “a line in the sand”​, with businesses, governments and others around the world uniting behind a clear vision for a circular economy for plastic.

“This is just one step on what will be a challenging journey, but one that can lead to huge benefits for society, the economy and the environment,”​ MacArthur said. “I encourage all businesses and governments to go further and embark on a race to the top in the creation of a circular economy for plastic. One in which this material never becomes waste or pollution.”

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment follows on from the launch of the Plastics Pact, which set out ambitious plastic reduction targets for UK businesses​ between now and 2025.

Key targets

  • Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and move from single-use to reuse packaging models.
  • Innovate to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted by 2025.
  • Circulate the plastic produced, by significantly increasing the amounts of plastics reused or recycled and made into new packaging or products.

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