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Swift actions to end plastic waste

Source:International Plastics News for Asia

Date Published:3/5/2019 04:03:47 PM

Global companies are advancing solutions to eliminate plastic waste in the environment with the creation of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste
AEPW
Global companies from the plastics and consumer goods value chain launched a new organisation to advance solutions to eliminate plastic waste in the environment, especially in the ocean. The cross value chain Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW or Alliance), currently made up of about 30 member companies, has committed over $1 billion with the goal of investing $1.5 billion over the next 5 years to help end plastic waste in the environment. The Alliance will develop and bring to scale solutions to minimise and manage plastic waste, and promote solutions for used plastics by helping to enable a circular economy. Its membership represents global companies located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
 
A not-for-profit organisation, the Alliance is composed of companies that make, use, sell, process, collect, and recycle plastics - such as chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters, and waste management companies - also known as the plastics value chain. It works with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as a founding strategic partner. Investment and efforts are focused in 4 key areas:  Infrastructure development to collect and manage waste and increase recycling; Innovation to advance and scale new technologies that make recycling and recovering plastics easier and create value from all post-use plastics;   Education and engagement of governments, businesses, and communities to mobilise action; and, Clean up concentrated areas of plastic waste already in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste, like rivers, that carry land-based plastic waste to the ocean.   
 
An initial set of projects and collaborations for a range of solutions to help end plastic waste was announced. These include partnering with cities to design integrated waste management systems in large urban areas where infrastructure is lacking, especially those along rivers which transport vast amounts of unmanaged plastic waste from land to the ocean. This work will include engaging local governments and stakeholders, and generate economically sustainable and replicable models that can be applied across multiple cities and regions. The Alliance will pursue partnerships with cities located in high plastic leakage areas and will also collaborate with other programmes working with cities, such as Project STOP, which is being implemented in Indonesia.
 
The Alliance will also provide funding to support The Incubator Network by Circulate Capital and SecondMuse to develop and promote technologies, business models and entrepreneurs that prevent ocean plastic waste and improve waste management and recycling, with the intention of creating a pipeline of projects for investment, with an initial focus on South and Southeast Asia. Another project involves developing an open source, science-based global information project to support waste management projects with reliable data collection, metrics, standards, and methodologies to help governments, companies, and investors focus on and accelerate actions to stop plastic waste from entering the environment
 
Creating a capacity building collaboration with intergovernmental organisations such as the United Nations will be undertaken to conduct joint workshops and trainings for government officials and community-based leaders to help them identify and pursue the most effective and locally-relevant solutions in the highest priority areas. Another programme aims to support Renew Oceans to aid localised investment and engagement. The programme is designed to capture plastic waste before it reaches the ocean from the ten major rivers shown to carry the vast majority of land-based waste to the ocean, with initial work to support the Renew Ganga project. 
 
Plastic waste
 
Impact on the waste problem
Research from the Ocean Conservancy indicates that about 80% of plastic waste in the ocean begins as litter on land, with majority driven to the sea by rivers. One study estimates that over 90% of river-borne plastic in the ocean comes from 10 major rivers around the world – eight in Asia, and two in Africa. Around 60% of plastic waste in the ocean can be sourced to five countries in Southeast Asia.
 
“While our effort will be global, the Alliance can have the greatest impact on the problem by focusing on the parts of the world where the challenge is greatest; and by sharing solutions and best practices so that these efforts can be amplified and scaled-up around the world”, said Peter Bakker, President and CEO of World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
 
Founding members in action
The founding members of the AEPW are BASF, Berry Global, Braskem, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, Clariant, Covestro, Dow, DSM, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics Corporation USA, Henkel, LyondellBasell, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, NOVA Chemicals, OxyChem, PolyOne, Procter & Gamble, Reliance Industries, SABIC, Sasol, SUEZ, Shell, SCG Chemicals, Sumitomo Chemical, Total, Veolia, and Versalis (Eni).
 
“Success will require collaboration and coordinated efforts across many sectors – some that create near-term progress and others that require major investments with longer timelines. Addressing plastic waste in the environment and developing a circular economy of plastics requires the participation of everyone across the entire value chain and the long term commitment of businesses, governments, and communities. No one country, company or community can solve this on their own,” said Veolia CEO, Antoine Frérot, vice chairman of the AEPW.
 
As one of its first financial contributions, the Alliance will provide support to The Incubator Network by Circulate Capital and SecondMuse. Launched in 2018, the The Incubator Network, was created to develop and promote technologies, business models, and entrepreneurs that prevent ocean plastic waste and improve waste management and recycling. Its intention is to create a pipeline of projects and opportunities in South and Southeast Asia. The Incubator Network seeks to rapidly scale the number of innovators in the sector, enabling eco-systems and support for those innovations, and build capacity among the waste and recycling communities that are on the front lines of preventing plastic pollution.
 
Over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced globally since large-scale production began in the 1950s, creating almost 6 billion tonnes of plastic waste. What is alarming is that only 9% of this has been recycled. The rest has been burned and contributes to climate change or is still polluting the environment. Most plastics are used for the production of packaging, which is often single-use.
 
Through a comprehensive approach, it is working to build a network of incubators and accelerators to advance healthy ecosystems in both the private and public sectors to support and scale solutions on waste management or recycling, as well as alternative materials and delivery systems, like reusable and returnable materials. 
 
Leading the way to the future
Most of the founding companies have embarked on investment programmes to support the objectives of the Alliance.  Co-founder Procter and Gamble released its “Ambition 2030” sustainability goals that aim to enable and inspire positive impact on the environment and society while creating value for Procter and Gamble as a company and for consumers. As an example, the goals include ensuring that 90% of product packaging is recyclable and reducing absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30%.  Procter and Gamble CEO, David Taylor, also serves as the Alliance chairman. 
 
Another co-founder, Dow, vows to advance solutions that eliminate plastic waste in the environment, especially in the ocean.  The company has become a founding investor in Circulate Capital’s $100 million effort to incubate and finance companies and infrastructure that prevent waste in oceans. Circulate Capital’s mission is to demonstrate the viability of investment in the waste management and recycling sectors to attract the institutional investment capital needed to scale integrated recycling and waste management companies and infrastructure across South and Southeast Asia. Dow’s recent #PullingOurWeight campaign, which began in fall 2018, included more than 5,600 Dow employees, families and friends participating in 55 cleanups globally, removing more than 52,500 pounds of trash and litter from beaches and waterways. Also, Dow’s RecycleReady technology enables manufacturers to develop packaging that can qualify for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s “How2Recycle” label and can be recycled via polyethylene recycling streams such as the grocery store drop-off system in the US. Dow-initiated Hefty® EnergyBag® recovery initiative which collects hard-to-recycle plastics and converts them into valuable resources has collected more than 176,500 bags and diverted more than 115 tonnes of plastics from landfills, the equivalent of approximately 92 million snack-sized chip bags or 546 barrels of diesel fuel by July 2018. 
 
Another major player is BASF which has been working on innovative technologies that promote the recycling of plastics through its ChemCycling project. Together with its customers and partners, BASF developed and manufactured the first pilot products based on chemically recycled plastic waste. BASF is also actively implementing “Operation Clean Sweep®” globally in all its plastic pellet production sites, which aims to prevent plastic pellet loss along the value chain through behavioural, organisational and technical measures. Furthermore, BASF engages in various collaborations and association projects (for example, World Plastics Council, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, CEFLEX) on waste management and education.
 
Henkel is reinforcing its efforts for sustainable packaging. It decided to become a founding member in the Alliance as a reflection of its commitment to promote a circular value chain for plastics. By 2025, 100% of Henkel’s packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable. At the same time, the company aims to use 35% recycled plastic for its consumer goods products in Europe.  Since 2017, the Plastic Bank is an important strategic partner for Henkel. The social enterprise offers solutions to both the environmental problems of plastic waste and the social challenges posed by poverty and the lack of employment opportunities. The local communities can return collected plastic waste and exchange it for money, goods, or services.
 
Chevron Phillips Chemical has intensified its environmental stewardship focus as one of the founding members of the Alliance.  The company is already providing leadership in North America and globally to enable and encourage municipalities, governments and people to develop systems for responsibly handling the products making modern life possible after their intended use.

 

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