Today is Earth Day, an international day of environmental action and an important moment to reflect on the vital role of businesses in protecting the planet. Our unique and precious world is on the brink of profound change. Our actions today are not just impacting the wellbeing of people, communities and our planet now: they are determining whether future generations will thrive — even survive.
The consumer goods industry, like everyone, has to rise to the climate challenge. The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is where business competitors come together and put competition aside, to find and share solutions that will make the world a better place, and work together to make sustainability the norm across our industry. At the CGF, we are committed to using our influence and reach to create changes which have tangible and lasting positive effects on people, planet and business.
We know that leadership from our sector is vital to achieving the Paris Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals. And we know we must continually strive to go further and do more to protect the planet. Our members believe businesses must look after the planet and earn the trust of consumers through genuine openness and innovation.
By coming together to tackle shared challenges, the CGF is working to accelerate progress on a wide range of areas including:
- Every year, millions of hectares of forest are lost to deforestation. This vast loss comes with huge consequences: Forests are crucial to providing food, air, water and maintaining life on Earth. By storing carbon, they are our ally in fighting the climate crisis.
- Through our Forest Positive Coalition of Action, 20 of the world’s leading retailers and manufacturers have joined together to help lead cross-sector efforts in ending commodity-driven deforestation. We have a shared commitment to be open about our progress, and last month, the Coalition released ‘Taking Root: Embarking on the Forest Positive Journey’, a publication illustrating our strategy, reflecting on our progress, and
- It outlines how we are helping to transform the production and supply of four key commodities – palm oil, soy, paper, pulp and fibre-based packaging, and beef – and sets out the progress made in the six months since the Coalition launched. The Coalition is actively collaborating to restore habitats in and around their supply chains – alongside with local and international groups including civil society actors, governments, and landscape-level conservation programmes.
Embracing the circular economy
- We all know we have a problem with plastic waste. While plastic does play a useful role in our industry, the alarming amount of plastic in our oceans and natural spaces is a sign that our approach to using plastics needs to change.
- Solving the problem means re-thinking the life cycle of plastic packaging and moving towards circularity – where plastics are kept in use for as long as possible.
- Our Plastic Waste Coalition of Action is in a powerful position to deliver industry-led solutions. At the end of last year, the Coalition launched the first of a series of Golden Design Rules for the creation of plastic packaging, which will reduce the complexity of the recycling process for different types of materials, in turn helping to increase recycling rates.
- Coalition members from around the world, representing more than 10% of the global plastic packaging market, have committed to adopting these rules wherever possible by 2025.
- The Coalition is working hard to finalise the remaining Golden Design Rules to help transform the industry’s relationship with plastic packaging.
Tackling food waste
- A third of all food produced for humans is never eaten – and wasting food feeds climate change. If food waste were a country, it would have the third biggest carbon footprint in the world.
- That’s because when food is wasted, the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport and package it is also wasted. And if food ends up going to landfill and rots, it also produces harmful greenhouse gas.
- The CGF’s Food Waste Coalition brings together 21 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers to cut food loss at retailer and consumer levels. Its members are working to align on the most effective methods of measurement and reporting, supply chain engagement and loss prevention.
- We know that working with suppliers to identify and address any cases of loss at specific points of the supply chain is important. Another part of the solution is to divert unavoidable food surplus to people in need – helping to support communities while saving carbon emissions.
And, through our work in the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative, we are also working on strengthening the credibility of environmental standards by launching the development of benchmarking criteria, complementing the existing social ones.
In short, the intertwined relationship between business, the environment and society is clearer than ever – and no businesses can thrive unless the wider communities and the places where it operates can thrive as well. Companies taking meaningful action that benefits people and planet are helping to safeguard the Earth’s future while setting themselves up to succeed in a transformed industry where sustainable business is not just an ambition but an expectation.
We’re all facing a climate emergency; if unchecked, the damage will be irreversible. But it’s in our collective power to avoid the point of no return – and business collaboration is an essential part of the solution.