Single-Use Plastics Report Shows Progress

Ellen MacArthur Foundation reviews global firms’ efforts to use more recycled plastic in packaging.

November 08, 2019

UNITED KINGDOM—The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the UN Environment Programme have published the first annual New Plastics Economy Global Commitment progress report, which provides an unprecedented level of transparency on how hundreds of businesses and governments are reshaping the plastics system.

Launched in 2018, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment includes more than 400 signatories, including companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Mars, that represent 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally. These businesses are working to innovate so that plastic (i.e., single-use packaging, containers, etc.) can become 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable, and to circulate all the plastic currently used.

Consumer packaged goods companies and retailers that have signed on to the Global Commitment pledge to:

  • Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging by 2025;
  • Move from single-use toward re-use models where relevant by 2025;
  • Set a goal for 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025;
  • Set an ambitious 2025 recycled content target across all plastic packaging used.

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment 2019 Progress Report” shows promising advancements. Many business and government signatories are laying the foundations to scale and accelerate action and have made initial progress on their targets, ranging from plans to eliminate certain packaging items, to 43 businesses reporting active reuse pilots, changes in packaging design to increase recyclability and initial progress toward ambitious recycled content targets.

“To reach the 2025 targets, continued scaling of action and a further increase in the ambition level will be needed,” notes the Foundation, adding that this applies to efforts “going beyond recycling, such as elimination and reuse.”

The September NACS Magazine cover story, “The New Plastic Economy,” outlines how the single-use plastics movement is changing the food and retail landscape.