The New Plastics Economy initiative, organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, kicks off today with a workshop attended by more than 40 companies along with cities, policy makers, academics and nonprofits. It follows a report by the Foundation, The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics, released at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos in January.
The report calls on all stakeholders across the global plastics value chain — including consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers and plastics manufacturers, recyclers and others — to apply circular economy principles to plastic packaging to reduce harmful environmental effects such as leakage into oceans. It finds that while plastics and plastic packaging are an integral part of the global economy and deliver many benefits, their value chains entail drawbacks. The report finds that most plastic packaging is used only once; 95 percent of the value of plastic packaging material, worth $80 billion to $120 billion annually, is lost to the economy.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation says this new three-year plastics initiative is the first step towards a circular-economy approach to plastics. “It seeks to create a shared sense of direction, to spark a new wave of innovation and to move the plastics value chain — starting with plastic packaging — into a positive spiral of value capture, stronger economics, and better environmental outcomes,” said Ellen MacArthur in a statement announcing the initiative.
The project aims to create an effective after-use plastics economy, reduce leakage of plastics into natural systems and other negative externalities and decouple plastics from fossil feedstocks.
The New Plastics Initiative follows a paper by Trucost published last week that says an industry-wide expansion of sustainable plastic initiatives such Dell’s recycled plastic and Algix’s bioplastic could deliver $3.5 billion in environmental savings.