The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has released a practical guide that aims to inspire businesses to contribute to a comprehensive approach to ending plastic in nature. The report shares three strategies that can help economy and society shift to a world with a better performing plastics cycle.
The report titled, ‘No Plastic in Nature: A Practical Guide for Business Engagement,’ outlines the threats plastic pollution poses to nature, people and livelihoods, and presents WWF’s vision of an economy and society that has “zero tolerance for plastic pollution and all harm caused to the environment by plastic.” The report focuses on the role of businesses, emphasizing that dedicated engagement of the private sector “can make plastic pollution an issue of the past.”
The report argues that “aligned action at all stages of the plastic life cycle is needed” to alleviate the harm that plastic pollution inflicts on the planet and its inhabitants. The report identifies inadequate waste management systems as a major cause of plastics pollution, with only 14 percent of packaging being collected for recycling globally. In addition, 32 percent of all plastic packaging does not even end up in a collection system. The report focuses on three strategies to achieve a “no plastic in nature” vision: eliminating unnecessary plastics; doubling global plastic recovery; and shifting to sustainable sources for remaining plastic.
Only 14 percent of packaging being collected for recycling globally.
Analysis in the report finds that effective corporate action to combat the plastic crisis falls into four areas. First, businesses are maximizing their impact through strategic alignment, organizational design and “intense but selective collaboration.” Second, the corporate world is designing products, packaging and distribution models to improve rates of recycling and recovery and ensure end markets for recycled materials. Third, companies are tailoring interventions to engage consumers, such as through encouraging shifts towards increased disposal behavior and thoughtful buying behavior. Finally, businesses are working to improve and innovate existing collection and recovery infrastructure. The guide provides examples of innovation in each area.
The guide shares examples of what has already worked to help businesses create engagement strategies and develop specific actions along the plastic life cycle to further these strategies. McDonald’s, for instance, adopted circular economy as a guiding strategic principle for its packaging to ensure incorporation of end-of-life management into decision-making processes. The company’s ‘Scale for Good’ strategy focuses on five concrete goals, including one focused on packaging and recycling, and the testing of reusable cups with a deposit scheme is underway in some restaurants. L’Oreal developed a ‘Packaging and Environment Policy’ in 2007 using a ‘3R eco-design approach’: respect consumer, biodiversity and environment; reduce packing size and weight; and replace materials with a high environmental footprint. L’Oreal has developed a new packaging and distribution method for Lancôme Absolue L’Extrait using a refillable jar and recharges, which prevents the original jar from being disposed of and reducing packaging weight. Detailed examples throughout the report illustrate how companies have tackled plastic waste and innovated to harness design and distribution opportunities.
SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) includes SDG target 12.5, which aims to, by 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.