The New Plastic Economy Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report: Our Progress and Homeworks

The New Plastic Economy Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report is here
The 2020 Progress Report is here!

About The Global Commitment

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which will be called The Global Commitment hereafter, gathers businesses, government, and other organizations with similar focuses and concerns under a common vision and targets to be fulfilled in 2025 in tackling plastic waste and pollution from the source, starting with packaging.

The Global Commitment was launched back in October 2018 and is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Consisting of more than 500 organizations, all parties are working to (1) eliminate the plastic items we don’t need, (2) innovate so that the plastics that we do need are designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted, and (3) circulate everything we use to keep it in a circular economy and out of the environment.

Waste4Change is proud to be one of the signatories of the Global Commitment
Waste4Change is proud to be one of the signatories of the Global Commitment

Current signatories to the Global Commitment includes:

  • 250+ businesses across all stages of the plastic packaging value chain, representing more than 20% of all plastic packaging used globally
  • 200+ endorsing signatories, including 27 financial institutions with a combined USD 4 trillion worth of assets under management, renowned institutions such as National Geographic, WWF, the World Economic Forum, the Consumer Goods Forum, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Waste4Change, as well as 50 academics, universities, and other educational and research organizations
  • 20 national, sub-national, and local level governments across five continents

About The 2020 Progress Report

The 2020 progress report is the second in a series of annual Global Commitment progress reports. In the 2019 report, a quantitative baseline was set, and now the 2020 progress report will provide the first insight into the trajectory of the progress against the baseline that has been made towards creating a circular economy for plastics.

Signatories that have reported their progress relating to the Global Commitment through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Signatories that have reported their progress relating to the Global Commitment through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

In the 2020 progress report, 118 businesses that produce, use, and recycle large volumes of plastic packaging and 17 governments have reported on progress against ambitious targets that were set together to eliminate and circulate plastics.

They have been asked to report based on a common set of commitments, using the same definitions with the purpose of driving transparency and consistency in data sharing on plastics.

Progress and Key Findings

Some of the progress that has been made are:

1. Recycled content in packaging grew by 22% between 2018 and 2019, which conveys a promising trajectory towards 2025 post-consumer recycled content (PCR) targets. This increase contributed to a 0.1% reduction in the total volume of virgin plastic used by those companies in their packaging.

Illustration of plastic packaging. Source: /www.foodnavigator.com
Illustration of plastic packaging. Source: /www.foodnavigator.com

2. 31% of packaged goods and retail signatories (18 companies in total), have targets in place to reduce virgin plastic in packaging or even to reduce plastic packaging altogether.

Targets set by 10 of the companies alone would lead to a reduction in virgin plastics use by at least 1.1 million metric tonnes by 2025.

3. More signatories are eliminating packaging and materials commonly identified as problematic or unnecessary, such as PS, PVC, PVDC, undetectable carbon black, single-use plastic bags, and straws. 100% of governments and 81% of businesses with problematic or unnecessary plastics in their portfolio have indicated that they are planning to eliminate or reduce or more of those plastics category.

4. More businesses are testing and piloting reuse models; 39% of signatories had pilots in progress over the reporting year, with a further 17% of signatories reporting plans to deliver pilots going forward. A few businesses even reported large numbers of pilots delivered, namely Natura Cosmetics, L’Oreal, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, and Unilever.

5. Measurement and transparency on plastics use is increasing. Signatories have now published their plastic packaging portfolios, with 47% of packaged goods and retail signatories disclosing their total packaging volumes to the public. The rate of information transparency increase by 10% compared to only 37% in 2018

Our Homeworks and What Still Needs to be Done

While the progress reported from the signatories are well-appreciated and taken into account, there are also areas that undergone minimum progress and thus require urgent action, which are

1. Limited innovation in reducing single-use packaging at scale: That is, elimination efforts remain focused on a relatively small set of materials and formats, and is done mostly through mere replacement with other plastics or paper, or lightweighting (cutting down the weight of packaging, e.g by reducing thickness).

Can we do what it takes to make plastics a thing of the past?
Can we do what it takes to make plastics a thing of the past?

Out of the examples reported by signatories, only 23% of them used more innovative methods to fundamentally rethink packaging, products, and supply chains to reduce the need for packaging in the first place.

2. We have significant homework in order to meet the target of 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. For example, 36% of packaged goods and retail signatories’ packaging are still non-recyclables, signaling the need for fundamental changes to take place to make it recyclable at scale.

3. Substantial differences between signatories in terms of their progress: while some have made good steps forward, some have failed to demonstrate meaningful progress on any of their commitment.

Given the situation and time constraint, many businesses will need to accelerate their efforts in the coming years if they want to meet their 2025 targets

Call to Action

In response to the reports’ findings, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNEP call for both businesses and policymakers to accelerate things further in order to make plastic pollution “a thing of the past”

Call to Action for businesses and policymakers based on the findings of the 2020 Progress Report
Call to Action for both businesses and governments

Businesses are urged to:

  1. Take bold action on packaging types that are not recyclable today by either developing and executing a credible roadmap to make way for recycling or innovating to move away from these types of packaging. If not addressed immediately, businesses will risk wasting time and resources on incremental improvements and fragmented efforts that will never lead to systemic changes.
  2. Set ambitious reduction targets. If we fail to act, by 2040 the volume of plastic on the market will double, and the annual volume of plastic entering the ocean will almost triple. The worst scenario is that ocean plastic stocks will quadruple, and better recycling will not be enough.

To tackle ocean plastic pollution, about 50% of predicted plastic use will have to be eliminated by 2040

Whereas policymakers are expected to:

3. Establish policies and mechanisms that provide dedicated and stable funding for collection and sorting through fair industry contributions, such as EPR: without a dedicated funding system, the whole process of collecting, sorting, and recycling is not economically viable for most types of plastic packaging in most regions/area.

4. Set a global direction and create an international framework for action, through the UN Environment Assembly, to establish a vision of a circular economy for plastics. Voluntary initiatives like the Global Commitment plays a vital role, but this alone won’t be enough to eliminate plastic waste and pollution.

Download the full report here.

Where Waste4Change Comes In

As a company that specializes in providing responsible waste management solutions based in Indonesia, Waste4Change is proud to be one of the signatories of the New Plastic Economy Global Commitment.

Through our various services such as Responsible Waste Management, Zero Waste to Landfill, and even Solid Waste Management Research, we are open to any kind of collaboration and initiatives that can help packaged good companies, businesses, and retails who are striving to reach their 2025 targets.

Because at the end of the day, our waste management services‘ ultimate goal is encapsulated in the Global Commitment, which is to eliminate, recycle, and circulate the plastics that we do need inside the economy and keep them out of landfills and our environment.

References

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/resources/apply/global-commitment-progress-report

Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report

1 2