World’s leading brands and retailers join forces to tackle plastic waste challenge through packaging and policy commitments

World’s leading brands and retailers join forces to tackle plastic waste challenge through packaging and policy commitments

December 9, 2020
Press Release: The Consumer Goods Forum

In an effort to tackle the plastic pollution challenge and help advance a world where no plastic waste ends up in nature, the Plastic Waste Coalition of Action from The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) has in the past few days announced the first critical advances made by Coalition members to transform the industry’s relationship with plastic packaging

Focused on key packaging design changes and the development of a framework for optimal Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs, these actions illustrate the Coalition’s leading role in the industry to reduce plastic waste by driving tangible, scalable actions that will impact the quality and recyclability of plastic packaging, and support waste management schemes around the world.

The development of the new Coalition earlier this year builds on the CGF’s 2018 endorsement of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. The Coalition’s vision of driving progress toward the New Plastics Economy is embodied in its four main priorities:

  • Adopting plastic packaging design guidelines to reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging, and increase its value, quality and recyclability;
  • Aligning on a framework for EPR programs to support the improvement and development of waste management systems worldwide;
  • Supporting recycling innovations;
  • Piloting new programs in advanced and transitional markets to increase recycling rates.

Advancing on their first priority, Coalition members have finalized the first two of a series of ‘Golden Design Rules’ for the design of plastic packaging which are designed to accelerate progress toward their aim of using less and better plastic. These rules aim to help reduce the complexity of the recycling process for different types of materials, thereby increasing recycling rates. These first two focus on increasing the value of PET bottle recycling and removing problematic elements from packaging, such as carbon black, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and EPS (expanded polystyrene), which complicate the recycling process. Consumers will be able to see the impact of these changes as everyday products such as single-use bottles, toiletries, household cleaning supplies, food wrappers and take-away containers will be packaged in materials that can be recycled more easily.

Coalition members from around the world, with a shared revenue of more than €1 trillion and representing more than 10% of the global plastic packaging market, have committed to adopting these rules wherever possible by 2025. These commitments come after identifying and prioritizing opportunities in their packaging portfolios where they can make targeted and valuable impact. They also commit to reporting on their implementation of the rules through a simple process aligned with Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment reporting. Details of what these first two rules entail – and which members have adopted them – are available on the Coalition’s website.

Additionally, Coalition members have released a new position paper, Building a Circular Economy for Packaging: A View from the Consumer Goods Industry on Optimal Extended Producer Responsibility, which provides a framework for the development and implementation of EPR programs around the world. Recognizing that the industry can’t achieve a circular economy working on its own, the Coalition supports the development of EPR programs as a way to help facilitate industry and government collaboration on improved waste management. Coalition members will be able to use this framework to guide their engagement with markets around the world and help provide effective support for local recycling schemes. The paper is available for download on the Coalition’s website.

These actions on both design and EPR are overseen by the Coalition’s leadership. The Coalition is sponsored at the CGF Board level by Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever, and Galen Weston, executive chairman, Loblaw Companies. Its Steering Committee is co-chaired by Barry Parkin, chief procurement and sustainability officer, Mars, Incorporated, and Robert Nicol, vice president of corporate affairs, Walmart Canada.

“We must urgently take action to stop plastic waste and move to a circular model,” said Alan Jope. “This is the number one priority for us as a Coalition. No one business can achieve this on its own, which is why we’ve joined forces to drive change across our own industry and to hopefully set an example for other sectors.”

“Our industry generates a substantial share of the world’s plastic waste,” added Galen Weston. “As the companies that design, package and sell the products, we must be a substantial part of the solution. As a Coalition, we actively support impactful decisions, and thoughtful policies that reduce plastic waste.”

“Our industry is taking vital steps to address packaging waste and plastic pollution, including material and design innovation, new packaging formats and systems, and building better recycling programs,” concluded Ramon Laguarta, CEO, PepsiCo. “We know the public sector has an important role to play. A spirit of public-private partnership lies at the heart of our new guidance around optimizing extended producer responsibility systems.”

Plastic Free World Conference & Expo 2021 will be co-located with The Greener Manufacturing Show and will take place at Cologne Messe, Germany, on Wednesday 16 June and Thursday 17 June 2021. Registrations for this highly focused, solutions-driven event will open in early 2021. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please email [email protected]

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