Plastics, consumer goods makers pledge to rein in waste

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste convened amid reports of a worsening environmental crisis from about eight million tonnes of plastic waste that end up in oceans every year.
The Alliance to End Plastic Waste convened amid reports of a worsening environmental crisis from about eight million tonnes of plastic waste that end up in oceans every year.PHOTO: REUTERS

FRANKFURT • Global companies including BASF, DowDuPont, Procter & Gamble and SABIC have formed an alliance to fight plastic waste, pledging to spend US$1.5 billion (S$2 billion) over the next five years on the effort.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), unveiled by its 28 founding companies on Wednesday, convened amid reports of a worsening environmental crisis from about eight million tonnes of plastic waste that end up in oceans every year, a finding that has led some countries to ban various single-use plastic products.

Current alliance members have committed more than US$1 billion to the project over the next five years, while money that additional members will pledge should take the five-year budget to about US$1.5 billion, a spokesman said.

The funds will be spent on waste collection infrastructure mainly in Africa and Asia, on technology for recycling and re-use of waste, on educating governments as well as local communities, and on cleaning up highly polluted areas.

The alliance, made up of plastics makers for the most part, said about 90 per cent of global marine litter comes from just 10 rivers and over half of the land-based plastic litter leaking into oceans originates from five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

AEPW counts none of China's major plastics and chemical groups - Sinochem, ChemChina and Sinopec - among its members but the spokesman said discussions to enlist Chinese players are continuing.

IHS Markit said in an October report that 59 per cent of global plastic waste comes from packaging.

Nestle said on Tuesday it will start to drop plastic straws from its products from next month. It is also working on biodegradable water bottles in a drive to reduce plastic waste.

Amid rising consumer concern over plastic waste, consumer goods heavyweights such as Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Unilever and Henkel have individually pledged to make their packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Nestle said on Tuesday it will start to drop plastic straws from its products from next month. It is also working on biodegradable water bottles in a drive to reduce plastic waste.

The Swiss group, which is the world's biggest packaged food company, will start using alternative materials such as paper and adopt designs to replace plastic straws and reduce litter.

Procter & Gamble and Henkel are the only branded consumer goods makers among AEPW members now, but the alliance's spokesman said more would likely join over the next few weeks.

The location of the alliance's headquarters has not yet been decided and the search for a chief executive is ongoing, the spokesman added.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2019, with the headline 'Plastics, consumer goods makers pledge to rein in waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe