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United Action on Plastic Waste

Plastic is an important and universal material in our economy and certainly in the consumer goods sector. It has multiple functions that help tackle a number of the challenges facing our society. Light and high-performance insulation materials help us ensure food safety and reduce food waste. However, too often the way plastics are currently produced, used and discarded fails to capture the economic benefits of a more ‘circular’ approach and harms the environment.

95% of the plastic packaging is single-use. There is an urgent need to tackle the environmental problems that today cast a long shadow over the production, use and consumption of plastics. The million tonnes of plastic litter that end up in the environment (land and sea) every year are one of the most visible and alarming signs of this problem. We need collaborative action.

The Roadmap to Success

Reduction: The first step is to reduce our use of materials and plastic specifically. While the plastics industry has grown to meet consumer demand, our members are committed to reduction efforts – we know reducing waste means less environmental impact. With the growth of the plastics industry, we are seeing more and more single use packaging. Sadly, most single-use packaging has become waste, ending up in landfill and ultimately in our rivers and oceans, posing a major threat to aquatic ecosystems. Reducing plastic use at the onset will reduce waste which means less environmental impact, but also less resources and energy used and more money saved.

Circularity: Our Board believes that moving away from the current “make, use, dispose” model of the traditional linear economy to a Circular Economy Model, which is restorative and regenerative by design, is the solution. Industry, government, consumers and civil society all have a role to play in the circular economy to make it more applicable to the mainstream while remaining economically competitive. Our members are working individually and collaboratively toward circular solutions.

Collaboration: We know pre-competitive, collaborative efforts with a united focus towards reduction and recovery is required. Towards that effort, the CGF is working in collaboration with the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance (TFSA) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to reduce the threat that solid waste poses to the planet and to our ocean. In October 2018, our members collectively issued a statement calling on the consumer goods industry to play a leading role in eliminating plastics waste on land and sea and to support the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy, which explores the application of circular economy principles to global plastic packaging flows. Many individual CGF member companies are already advancing efforts that are consistent with the goals and objectives of the New Plastics Economy. As part of the TFSA, the CGF is working alongside science and conservation leaders on strategies to address plastic leakage into our waterways.