Coordinated by the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development, 185 investors with a total wealth of $10 trillion have come together to urge companies to take stronger action to tackle the plastic crisis, reports Sustainable Brands (SB).
Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental problems, as the rapid production of single-use plastic products exceeds the world’s capacity to cope. Sent to more than 30 of the world’s leading consumer goods companies in early May, investors are lobbying against the use of plastics because of the seriousness and danger they pose to the environment and society at large.
They condemn the lack of commitment of plastic companies
The signatories, which include As You Sow, Aviva Investors, Domini Impact Investors, Rockefeller Asset Management and Trillium Asset Management, argue in a statement that failure to address these impacts exposes companies to financial risks that hinder value creation. And jeopardizes the returns. on investment.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a non-profit focused on the circular economy and transition to a more sustainable economic system, projects that it is “highly likely” that companies will fail to meet the current targets and instead single out Increase the use of single-use plastic packaging. Demonstrate credible and ambitious plans for reuse.
Plastic pollution has an estimated cost to society of more than $100 million per year, including environmental cleanup, ecosystem degradation, reduced lifespan, and medical treatment.
“It is worth noting that most companies in the food and consumer goods retail sector are taking limited steps to reduce the financial risks associated with plastics.”
Investors pressure against plastics
The signatories call on companies to take a more radical approach and confront the plastic crisis with a firm hand. Its goal is for companies to significantly reduce material consumption, eliminate single-use packaging, and promote reusable packaging systems on a large scale.
In addition, they urge companies to show public support rather than oppose the ambitious policy to reduce plastics. This includes support for the UN Global Plastics Treaty and the proposed EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which is currently under review. A recent analysis has shown that lobbying efforts by industry associations have significantly weakened some of the measures proposed in the PPWR.
“Most companies are not reacting fast enough to the growing plastics crisis.”
Arthur Van Mansvelt, Signor’s Senior Commitment Specialist
Achmea Investment Management.
Highlighted companies include well-known brands such as The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, Kellogg, Keurig Dr Pepper, L’Oréal, Mondelez International, PepsiCo, as well as major retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Target, Marks & Spencer. and Carrefour.
The plastic problem only gets worse
While it is estimated that there are between 75 million and 199 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean, the problem goes beyond the impact on the marine environment. Greenhouse gas emissions from single-use plastics from production to disposal in 2021 were equal to the UK’s total annual emissions.
The life cycle of plastics is also closely linked to growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals. More than 3,000 potentially harmful chemicals have been identified in food packaging.
Investors expect companies to commit to identifying and eliminating the use of hazardous substances in plastics, as they pose a significant risk to human health and financial value. Companies must submit an action plan with defined deadlines and report progress in a manner that is verifiable by external sources.
An important milestone in reducing the overall use of plastic was the commitment made by Unilever in 2019 to reduce the use of virgin plastic by 50%, including the complete elimination of 100 thousand tons of plastic packaging by the year 2025 did.