The world’s leading brands pledged this week a war on plastic. Brands ranging from Coca Cola to Kelloggs, packaging producers, retailers and recyclers – together encompassing around 250 organizations – decided to reduce their use of plastic – the move that the United Nations described as the most ambitious effort yet to fight plastic pollution. The initiative comes amidst public pressure against manufacturers that use a lot of plastic packaging that inflict a lot of damage to the environment. “We know that cleaning up plastics from our beaches and oceans is vital, but this does not stop the tide of plastic entering the oceans each year. We need to move upstream to the source of the flow,” said Ellen MacArthur, the British sailor who is behind the plastic initiative.
The signatories of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment pledged to cut the use of unnecessary plastic and innovate with packaging to boost recycling. The UN Environmental Program (UNEP) has estimated that if current pollution rates continue, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050. Every year, around 8 million of plastic ends up in the sea, damaging the food chain and killing marine life. This initiative is unique and it focuses on the elimination of plastic rather than cleaning up plastic pollution. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UNEP, described the commitment as “the most ambitious set of targets we have seen yet in the fight to beat plastics pollution.”
Three signatories – Coca-Cola PepsiCo and Nestle – were recently named the world’s worst plastic polluters according to the Break Free From Plastic movement. In North America, these three brands accounted for 64 percent of all plastic pollution. “We are focused on improving the sustainability of all of our packaging, regardless of the type, and increasing the amount of recycled and renewable material,” Ben Jordan, Senior Director of Environmental Policy at Coca-Cola commented. Last week, the European Parliament supported a complete ban on single-use plastic items, including straws and cutlery.