Ellen MacArthur Foundation: substituting virgin grades with plastic recyclate is only part of the solution

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has published a third progress report on the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

The voluntary global initiative, which was launched in 2018, is reportedly making progress toward its 2025 goals. However, the industry has so far focused on replacing virgin plastics with recycled materials. But this is only part of the solution; it does not address the reduction of the total amount of plastic packaging in the market. Real efforts to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic packaging are hardly perceptible, according to the report. Not even 2% of the signatories are said to be using reusable packaging.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s third progress report for the Global Commitment, brand manufacturers and retailers which signed on to the Commitment have reduced their consumption of virgin plastic packaging for the second consecutive year. While consumption declined by 0.6% between 2018 and 2019, it dropped by 1.2% between 2019 and 2020. This development had been driven by a new mandatory target added to the Global Committment in 2021; commitment signatories from industry and commerce will need to reduce total consumption of plastics in absolute terms by 2025.

In light of the individual reduction targets announced by the signatories in response to the new requirements, it is expected that the consumption of primary plastics by all 63 retailers and brand owners would be reduced by 19% by 2025 compared to 2018. Combined with the manufacturers’ targets for increased use of recycled content, virgin plastic production could fall by an estimated 8m t annually by 2025.

⇒ This is an excerpt from a more comprehensive article published in EUWID Packaging Markets 1/2022.

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