Plastic waste in the value chain to get $1.5bn US investment

An alliance of global companies from the plastics and consumer goods value chain today launched a new organisation to advance the elimination plastic waste in the environment, especially in the ocean.
The cross-value chain Alliance to End Plastic Waste(AEPW), currently made up of nearly thirty member companies, has committed over $1.0 billion with the goal of investing $1.5 billion over the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment. The alliance will develop and bring to scale activities that will minimise and manage plastic waste and promote disposal of used plastics by helping to enable a circular economy. The alliance membership represents global companies and located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
“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,” said David Taylor, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble, and chairman of the AEPW. “I urge all companies, big and small and from all regions and sectors, to join us,” he 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,” said Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, and a vice chairman of the AEPW. “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.”
The alliance is a not-for-profit organisation that includes companies that make, use, sell, process, collect, and recycle plastics. This includes chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters, and waste management companies, also known as the plastics value chain. The alliance has been working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as a founding strategic partner. The alliance has also announced an initial set of projects and collaborations that reflect a range of solutions to help end plastic waste:

  • Partnering with cities to design integrated waste management systems in large urban areas where infrastructure is lacking, especially those along rivers that transport vast amounts of unmanaged plastic waste from land to the ocean. This work will include engaging local governments and stakeholders, and generate economically sustainable and replicable models that can be applied across multiple cities and regions. The alliance will pursue partnerships with cities located in high plastic leakage areas. The alliance will also be looking to collaborate with other programs working with cities, such as Project STOP, which is working in Indonesia.
  • Funding The Incubator Network by Circulate Capital to develop and promote technologies, business models and entrepreneurs who prevent ocean plastic waste and improve waste management and recycling, with the intention of creating a pipeline of projects for investment, with an initial focus on Southeast Asia.
  • Developing an open-source, science-based global information project to support waste management projects globally with reliable data collection, metrics, standards, and methodologies to help governments, companies, and investors focus on and accelerate actions to stop plastic waste from entering the environment. The alliance will explore opportunities to partner with leading academic institutions and other organisations already involved in similar types of data collection.
  • Creating a capacity-building collaboration with intergovernmental organisations such as the United Nations to conduct joint workshops and trainings for government officials and community-based leaders to help them identify and pursue the most effective and locally-relevant solutions in the highest priority areas.
  • Supporting Renew Oceans to aid localised investment and engagement. The program is designed to capture plastic waste before it reaches the ocean from the ten major rivers shown to carry the vast majority of land-based waste to the ocean. The initial work will support the Renew Ganga project, which has also received support from the National Geographic Society

In the months ahead, the alliance will make additional investments and drive progress in four key areas:

  • Infrastructure development to collect and manage waste and increase recycling.
  • Innovation to advance and scale new technologies that make recycling and recovering plastics easier and create value from all post-use plastics.
  • Education and engagement of governments, businesses, and communities to mobilise action.
  • Cleaning up concentrated areas of plastic waste already in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste, like rivers, that carry land-based plastic waste to the sea.

“Success will require collaboration and coordinated efforts across many sectors – some that create near-term progress and others that require major investments with longer timelines. Addressing plastic waste in the environment and developing a circular economy of plastics requires the participation of everyone across the entire value chain and the long term commitment of businesses, governments, and communities. No one country, company or community can solve this on their own,” said Veolia CEO Antoine Frerot, a vice chairman of the AEPW.
Research from the Ocean Conservancy shows that nearly 80 per cent of plastic waste in the ocean begins as litter on land, the vast majority of which travels to the sea by rivers. In fact, one study estimates that over 90 per cent of river-borne plastic in the ocean comes from 10 major rivers around the world – eight in Asia and two in Africa. Sixty per cent of plastic waste in the ocean can be sourced to five countries in Southeast Asia.
“Whilst our effort will be global, the alliance can have the greatest impact on the problem by focusing 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”, said Peter Bakker, president and CEO of World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The following companies are the founding members of the alliance: 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).
 

Drive home on bread bags

Recycling company Close the Loop has unveiled an upgraded manufacturing facility that could divert two-thirds of Australia’s 300,000 tonnes of waste soft plastics sent to local landfill annually.
The new manufacturing line in Melbourne will produce TonerPlas, an asphalt additive that contains the equivalent of 530,000 recycled plastic bags, toner from more than 12,000 recycled cartridges and 168,000 glass bottles in every kilometre of two-lane road. In conjunction with Downer, roads featuring TonerPlas have already been laid in Melbourne and Sydney this year.

Close the Loop chairman Craig Devlin said the opening of the line coincided with National Recycling Week and will enable the company to produce the additive on a commercial scale.
“Close the Loop has been at the forefront of the circular economy for more than 17 years. Our goal of zero waste to landfill has seen us partner with manufacturers through take-back programs across multiple sectors including printer cartridges, cosmetics and batteries.
“TonerPlas is a great example of how valuable materials can be recycled to not just create new products, but better-quality products. The addition of TonerPlas improves the fatigue life of traditional asphalt by 65 per cent, meaning longer lasting roads at a cost-competitive price. It also offers superior resistance to deformation over standard conventional asphalt for withstanding heavy vehicular traffic.”
“At full capacity our new manufacturing line provides us with the ability to produce enough TonerPlas in a year to pave a two-lane road from Sydney to Melbourne. That would contain the equivalent of 530,000,000 recycled plastic bags, 168,000,000 recycled glass bottles and 12,000,000 recycled toner cartridges. That’s more than 200,000 tonnes of soft plastics that currently go to landfill in Australia.”

He added that policy changes in China had highlighted the importance of a local recycling industry and improved energy use across the design, use and reuse of products – a circular economy.
“Our new manufacturing capacity to reuse soft plastics and toner into TonerPlas is a great example of what local companies can do,” Mr Devlin said. “However, Australia needs to coordinate and invest in infrastructure to build a viable recycling industry and divert problematic waste streams from landfill. Banning plastic bags is a start, but it doesn’t solve the challenge, especially as plastic bags account for less than five percent of all waste soft plastics.”

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