Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s and Nestle are among 250 major brands pledging to cut all plastic waste from their operations – a move described by the UN as the most ambitious effort yet to fight plastic pollution.
The commitment comes as public pressure mounts on manufacturers and retailers to reduce the avalanche of plastic packaging clogging landfills and choking the oceans.
The signatories have promised to eliminate all single-use plastics, and to invest in new technology so all packaging can be recycled by 2025.
The initiative is the result of a partnership between The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Erik Solheim, executive director of UNEP, described the commitment as “the most ambitious set of targets we have seen yet in the fight to beat plastics pollution.”
UNEP has estimated that if current pollution rates continue, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050.
Around 8 million tonnes of bottles and plastic waste fill the oceans each year, killing marine life and entering the food chain.
Most efforts to fight plastic pollution have focused on cleaning up the waste. But the latest commitment is designed to cut down on unnecessary plastic at its source.
“We know that cleaning up plastics from our beaches and oceans is vital, but this does not stop the tide of plastic entering the oceans each year,” said Ellen MacArthur, the record-breaking British sailor behind the new initiative.
“We need to move upstream to the source of the flow.”
Danone, H&M, L’Oréal, Mars and Unilever are among the other major brands to have agreed to get rid of plastic waste.
Three of the brands that have signed-up the commitment – Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle – were recently named the world’s worst plastic polluters, according to an index by the Break Free From Plastic movement.
In the US and Canada, these three companies accounted for 64 per cent of all plastic pollution identified in clean-up operations, according to the campaign group’s analysis.
“We are focused on improving the sustainability of all of our packaging, regardless of the type, and increasing the amount of recycled and renewable material,” said Ben Jordan, senior director of environmental policy at Coca-Cola.
Pavan Sukhdev, president of WWF International, said the new commitment was “an important step forward to join the efforts of businesses and governments around the world towards system-wide solutions”.
Last week, the European Parliament voted for a complete ban on single-use plastic items, including straws and cutlery, in a bid to curb pollution.
Unnecessary plastic products will be eradicated from 2021 under the plan.
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