The Ellen MacArthur Foundation today (29 October) launched its New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, backed by companies that produce 20% of all plastic packaging worldwide, as well as governments, NGOs, universities, industry associations, investors and other organisations.
Signatories, which include numerous world's largest packaging producers, brands, retailers and recyclers, represent 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally.
"The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment sees the countries involved commit to a "circular economy" approach to plastics, preventing them from becoming waste and ensuring they don't end up in the environment", Eugenie Sage, associate minister for the environment, said.
Dame Ellen said: 'We know cleaning up plastics from beaches and oceans is vital, but this does not stop the tide of plastic entering the oceans each year.
More than 15 financial institutions with in excess of $2.5 trillion in assets under management have also endorsed the Global Commitment and over $200 million has been pledged by five venture capital funds to create a circular economy for plastic.
The commitments came during the 2018 Our Ocean Conference, held in Bali, Indonesia, and included pledges that by 2025, 100 percent of plastic packaging be reusable, compostable or recyclable, as well as moving away from "problematic" packaging and using significantly more recycled plastic in packaging.
Brands that have signed the commitment will report their progress every year, as targets become more ambitious.
An estimated 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic had been produced since the early 1950s, with 60% of it ending up in landfills or the natural environment. We turn too many barrels of oil into plastic, and design plastic packaging without fully considering what happens to it after it's used.
Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner Julian Kirby said: "It's encouraging that more firms and governments are listening to public demands to curb plastic waste and are pledging to act".
The program can also be lengthened to other countries and will assist them in dipping plastic leakage into the ocean through recycling infrastructure and by incentivizing local waste collectors to join the fight through increased access to needed resources.
The commitment calls on these companies to start eliminating unnecessary plastics and implementing reusable packaging where possible, starting right now.
The Paris-based Consumer Goods Forum, which includes Nestle, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone and retailer Marks and Spencer, put out a statement endorsing the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's plans. Researchers calculate that if current trends continue, there could be more plastic than fish in the world's seas by 2050. All businesses and governments must go further and embark on a race to the top in the creation of a circular economy for plastic.
Household supplies multinational SC Johnson has announced a pioneering partnership with Plastic Bank, a plastic waste recycling startup, to tackle the threat of global ocean plastics by increasing the rate of recycling across less privileged areas of Indonesia.