Ellen MacArthur Foundation: Companies ‘far off track’ on plastic pollution

Global signatories of a UN commitment to reduce plastic have outperformed their peers, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s latest update.

The report entitled ‘Global Commitment Five Years In’ highlights that signatories of the UN Environment Partnership (UNEP) and Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Commitment have increased their use of recycled plastic by 1.5 million tonnes per annum.

Despite this, the report also highlights that a large part of the industry has not yet taken action. According to the report only 27% of signees have met their targets or are on track to do so by 2025.

Signees of the commitment include some of the world’s largest brands like Nestlé, Loréal, PepsiCo and Walmart.

Meanwhile, companies that have not signed the commitment have collectively increased their use of plastic by over 10% (11%).

In total, the Foundation predicts that 20 trillion plastic packaging items, including wrappers, pouches and sachets will end up in the ocean by 2040.

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Ellen MacArthur Foundation Plastics Initiative Lead Sander Defruyt said: “The learnings from the Global Commitment over the last five years have shown it’s possible to make meaningful progress towards keeping fossil resources in the ground and plastics out of the ocean.”

“When we took our first steps on this path there was limited action on this topic. The last five years have allowed us to make a major step forward.”

However, she added that the world remains “far off track” from fixing the plastic pollution crisis.

In addition, Greenpeace has described the main takeaway from the report as being the “failure” of current strategies to “tackle the plastics crisis”.

“Big companies such as Unilever, Nestlé and Coca-Cola must show that recycling is failing to address the dire impacts of their dependence on plastic,” said Greenpeace global corporate campaign lead Louise Edge.

“And that matching the scale of this crisis means phasing out single use plastics and transitioning to reuse and refill systems.”

She added: “That has to start with companies ending the sale of the highly-polluting plastic sachets which are flooding the Global South, contaminating local neighbourhoods and waterways.”

“Companies must grasp this opportunity, support measures to eliminate single use plastics and mainstream reuse and back calls for a global target to cut plastic pollution by at least 75% by 2040”.

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