New WWF Report Highlights Challenges and Solutions in Corporate Plastic Management

A little over a year ago the World Wildlife Fund launched ReSource: Plastic an activation hub to help an initial group of major corporations meet their plastics commitments through better data and measurable action. Today, WWF released a report called Transparent 2020 which examines the plastic footprints of these companies and provides a detailed look at the challenges and potential solutions for tackling the plastic pollution problem.

Sheila Bonini, SVP of private sector engagement at WWF explained that,

“In its first year, ReSource has begun to tap into the massive potential that companies have to become key levers that can actually help change the course of this global problem – but also their willingness and ability to act together.”

Why This Matters: WWF identified that as few as 100 companies have the potential to help prevent roughly 10 million metric tons of the world’s plastic waste pollution. Deriving lessons learned and helping standardize metrics through the initial phase of ReSource will help other companies make more meaningful commitments to reducing plastics and keeping them out of the environment.

The tools to identify the most effective interactions companies can take to lower their plastic footprints are becoming more effective and accessible. By refining these tools, ReSource hopes to enlist 100+ companies by 2030 in the effort to reach the ultimate goal of preventing at least 50 million metric tons of plastic waste from entering nature.

The Goals: ReSource has three main goals:

  1.  eliminate unnecessary plastic
  2. shift to sustainable inputs for remaining plastic
  3. double global recycling and composting of plastic

The Companies: The principal members of ReSource included, Coca-Cola, Keurig Dr. Pepper, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, and Starbucks. After a year of the pilot, Amcor, Colgate-Palmolive and Kimberly-Clark have also agreed to join.

The Methodology: Over the past year, member companies have begun to utilize the ReSource Footprint Tracker, an innovative methodology designed to fill a critical measurement gap companies have needed to effectively advance plastic sustainability. Following the lifecycle of plastic, the Footprint Tracker measures how much and what kind of plastic is being used, and where they are likely ending up upon disposal.

The Findings: The inaugural report found the 5 initial ReSource member companies collectively used 4.2 million metric tons of plastic in one year, of which only 8% was sourced from recycled material.

  • While these figures represent the need to address infrastructure challenges around increasing recycled plastic—they also tell a story of partnership and transparency, which is critical to enabling meaningful progress to address the systemic issues on plastic waste.
  • The report the need to develop action plans that focus on country-level opportunities. The United States represents the single biggest opportunity for better recycling systems due to the high sales volumes of ReSource companies coupled with limited recycling infrastructure and high landfill rate.
  • In particular, polypropylene recycling in the US is highlighted as a strong opportunity for increased recycling. The US recycling rate for polypropylene is close to zero, and as the demand for quality recycled polypropylene far exceeds supply, collective action is needed to increase availability.

Next Steps: Going forward, ReSource will seek to fill more data gaps in corporate plastics footprints and improve the quality and precision of our understanding of the plastic waste system overall. Companies will now be encouraged to set and report reusability targets at the country level, collaborate with other companies on localized solutions, as well as invest in consumer behavior change.

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