Brands representing 20% of the plastic packaging produced globally are among signatories to a new United Nations commitment to eradicate plastic waste and pollution.

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with UN Environment, and is backed by 250 organisations and brands.

Brand signatories include well-known businesses such as Danone, H&M group, L’Oréal, Mars Inc., PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, and Unilever.

Major packaging producers, such as Amcor, plastics producers including Novamont, and resource management specialist Veolia, have also signed up.

Three of the brands – Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle – were last year named the worst plastic polluters in the world in an index produced by the Break Free From Plastic movement.

The group said the three brands were responsible for 64% of all plastic pollution that had been identified in cleanups.

“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, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Businesses signing the Commitment have undertaken to publish yearly data about progress on the central goals of the project.

Targets include:
  • Eliminating problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and moving from single-use to reusable packaging models.
  • Innovating to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled, or composted by 2025.
  • Circulating the plastic produced, by significantly increasing the amounts of plastics reused or recycled and made into new packaging or products.
Meanwhile, Forbes reported how one major brand successfully applied the circular economy to its business model: adidas is set to make $1 billion by helping to solve the problem of plastics clogging up the world’s oceans, it said.

The brand teamed with not-for-profit organisation Parley for the Oceans, which campaigns to protect the marine environment, to support the Run for the Oceans project. This challenged people in major cities around the world to run for the cause and pledge a dollar for every kilometre they completed.

Following this, the sports brand said it will sell five million pairs of shoes using recycled plastic waste – at $220 a pair, that’s over $1 billion.

And this is just the start of a major emphasis on recycling for the brand, according to Forbes. Adidas had already announced that it intends to use repurposed ocean plastic in all of its products by 2024.

Sourced from United Nations, Break Free From Plastic, Reuters, Forbes; additional content by WARC staff