Plastics, consumer goods makers in $1.5 billion pledge to rein in waste

January 17, 2019 - 1:24 PM
Recycling center in Jakarta
A worker sorts used plastic at a plastic recycling center in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 20, 2018. (Reuters/Willy Kurniawan)

FRANKFURT — Global companies including BASF, DowDuPont, Procter & Gamble and SABIC have formed an alliance to fight plastic waste, pledging to spend $1.5 billion over the next five years.

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 8 million tonnes of plastic waste that end up in oceans every year, which has triggered bans on some single-use plastic products.

Current alliance members have committed more than $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 $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 currently made up of plastics makers for the most part, said about 90 percent 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 were continuing.

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

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 over the last two years.

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

The location of the alliance’s headquarters had not yet been decided and the search for a chief executive was ongoing, the spokesman added. — Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Ken Ferris