NEARLY 30 companies from across the plastic value-chain, including BASF, Dow Chemical, Shell, and ExxonMobil, have formed an alliance to combat plastic waste. Announced yesterday in London, UK the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) aims to reduce plastic waste in the environment, especially in the ocean.
According to Geyer et al 2017, of about 6.3bn t of plastic waste produced as of 2015 only 9% had been recycled. 12% had been incinerated, and the rest ended up in landfills, dumps, and the environment. Land-based plastic waste then goes to contribute more than 80% of the plastic waste found in oceans. A report by Ocean Conservancy, which works to protect the ocean, states that more than 80% of the plastic waste found in oceans originates from land-based plastic waste.
AEPW has committed more than US$1bn to help end plastic waste in the environment, with the goal of investing US$1.5bn over the next 5 years. The alliance aims to develop and scale methods to minimise and manage plastic waste and promote them by facilitating movement towards a circular economy. A circular economy is one in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible in order to minimise waste.
Along with announcing the launch of not-for-profit AEPW, the alliance also announced an initial set of projects and collaborations representing a range of waste solutions:
The alliance has a four-pillar strategy, and it will make additional investments in these over the coming months:
During the live broadcast announcing the alliance, Bob Patel, CEO of founding member LyondellBasell, said: “We must move on all four pillars to be effective quickly.”
AEPW is the largest cross-value initiative of its kind and includes chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters, and waste management companies. Membership is global, with companies located in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
David Taylor, CEO of AEPW member company Procter & Gamble, said: “Everyone agrees that plastic waste does not belong in our oceans or anywhere in the environment. This is a complex and serious global challenge that calls for swift action and strong leadership. This new alliance is the most comprehensive effort to date to end plastic waste in the environment. I urge all companies, big and small and from all regions and sectors, to join us.”
Patel added: “History has shown us that collective action and partnerships between industry, governments and NGOs can deliver innovative solutions to a global challenge like this. The issue of plastic waste is seen and felt all over the world. It must be addressed, and we believe the time for action is now.”
Marine litter harms more than 600 marine species and 15% of the species affected by ingestion and entanglement from marine litter are endangered. In addition, 99% of seabirds are expected to have ingested plastic by 2050.
A 2015 paper published in Science estimated that approximately 8 m t of plastic enters the ocean each year, suggesting that by 2025 the ocean will contain 250 m t of plastic, 1 t for every 3 t of fish.
More than 80 % of the plastic found in the ocean originates from land-based sources, and more than half of this originates from just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
A 2017 paper estimated that 90% of plastics which enter the ocean via rivers originate from just ten Asian and African rivers.
Beginning with focus on so-called high-leakage areas, AEPW aims to enable better management of plastic waste.
Peter Bakker, CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, said: “While our effort will be global, the Alliance can have the greatest impact on the problem by focussing on the parts of the world where the challenge is greatest; and by sharing solutions and best practices so that these efforts can be amplified and scaled up around the world.”
The founding members of AEPW are: BASF, Berry Global, Braskem, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, Clariant, Covestro, Dow, DSM, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics Corporation USA, Henkel, LyondellBasell, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, NOVA Chemicals, OxyChem, PolyOne, Procter & Gamble, Reliance Industries, SABIC, Sasol, SUEZ, Shell, SCG Chemicals, Sumitomo Chemical, Total, Veolia, and Versalis (Eni).
World Business Council has been working with AEPW as a founding strategic partner.
This article was edited on 28 September 2020 to change “[o]f the 9bn t of plastic waste that has ever been produced, only 9% has been recycled” to instead read “of about 6.3bn t of plastic waste produced as of 2015 only 9% had been recycled.” Additionally, credits to Geyer et al 2017 and Ocean Conservancy were added.
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