In November 2020, United Nations Environment (UNEP's) regional S. E Asia headquarters, Bangkok, hosted its second annual Sea of Solutions conference, this year held virtually, and with the co-host country, Vietnam. We were happy to be part of this event again, via our Plasticity Forum, as a side event talking about the importance of measurement and commitments. Last year, we hosted the full business day of the conference, which was our 13th global event since our launch of the Plasticity Forum at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012, with the event being one of the only business events that solely focuses on innovations and solutions for plastic in its second life. A video of our presentation can be seen here as well.
This year's Sea of Solutions event also focused on the need for Plastic Footprinting, and baseline measurement, which we have been promoting for 10 years now with our Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP). This is important, because if you do not measure what you have to begin with, in detail of volumes, types and what happens to it in the end, it is hard to manage your overall footprint over time, particularly if your company or institutions decides to make commitments to reduce materials, increase recycling, increase bio materials, etc. We have also been working with UNEP in Malaysia and Thailand, as part of their SeaCircular program, funded by Sweden, to train 10 companies and two municipalities in each country how to undertake the PDP.
A summary of the outcomes from the Sea Circular event is included, with the need for plastic footprinting as a highlighted feature on page 4, as seen below.
B: Transformation through footprint measurement, reporting, and disclosure, plastic neutrality and monetizing waste for
communities and businesses:
Business representatives shared the societal concern over the damage of plastic pollution to the environment and to people and showcased a range of
ways to solve the problem. Innovative technology, enabling regulations and economic incentives were highlighted as an indispensable part of
1. Plastic footprinting
2. Plastic credits and neutrality
3. Extended producer responsibility
4. Use of alternative materials and designing for sustainability
5. Harmonized regulations and standards
6. Levelling the playing field for players in an industry with global guidelines and models that work
Valuing Plastic Report
In 2014, we launched the first report on the natural capital cost of plastic, called "Valuing Plastic," in coordination with the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP), Trucost and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the world-first report at the U.N. Environmental Assembly in Nairobi on June 23rd. Talks on the report have been given at both Sustainable Brands '14 in San Diego, and the Plasticity Forum in New York, along with various webinars. The report identifies some of the risks and opportunities to brands associated with plastic use. It articulates the business case for measuring, managing and disclosing plastic use, underlined by the new research which identifies $75 billion of annual natural capital costs of plastic use by the consumer goods sector. The research assesses the plastic use and disclosure of the 100 largest companies in the consumer goods industry. You can download the full report here.
The Plastic Disclosure Project is an initiative that requests annual reporting and transparency regarding the production, use and handling of plastic and plastic waste by organisations. By measuring the amount of plastic that flows through an organisation, efficiencies can be gained in cost reduction, wastage reduction, new design, new materials, and better recycling. While designed for large corporates, institutions such as hospitals, universities, government offices and sports associations or teams can also participate to calculate and report their own "plastic footprint" on an annual basis.
The investment community is interested in this topic too, as new value can be realized by companies who take time to review and report their improvements in plastic management, and not just value from the potential improvements in their own bottom lines. New innovations and improved changes in material use and design should also have benefits for companies’ consumer bases, employees and the environment in which they reside, positioning them to better avoid reputational, regulatory, liability and economic risks, and sieze opportunities. Investment institutions interested to know more about the project, or who wish to join as signatories to the project, are encouraged to contact at email@example.com.
There are approximately 20 organisations that have disclosed or are working on disclosing directly to PDP, ranging from small local organisations to major listed multi-nationals, across product and service industries. There are another 20 organisations that are in discussions with PDP about making this commitment. These figures are in addition to the many companies that disclose related information already.
For example, in PDP's Report ‘Valuing Plastic' (http://bit.ly/PDPreport2014), conducted with Trucost and UNEP, we reported that many companies in the Consumer Goods industry have already recognised the need to measure, manage and report on their plastic usage, in advance of UNEP’s June 2014 call for companies to do so. Of the 100 Consumer Goods companies studied, over 80% discussed plastic in their sustainability report, and almost half provided qualitative data on plastic volumes, percentage of recycled or bio-based content, or improvement initiatives, in a way that was clear in its coverage and granularity. However, there is room for improvement across the board, with no one company disclosing all the details that PDP sees as a model disclosure.
Completed and/or Committed Disclosers:
- Lush Cosmetics
- Paragon Communications
- All Women Painting
- Ecologic Brands
- UC Berkeley
- Seventh Generation
- Method Home
- San Francisco Airport (SFO)
Survey responses will be made publically available, where agreed by the responding corporates. A public report, summarizing the survey findings, will be published on an annual basis.
- Reduce plastic waste in the environment
- Encourage sustainable business practices vis-a-vis plastic
- Inspire improved design & innovative solutions
- Support annual disclosure of plastic footprints/ management strategies
- Encourage efficiencies in plastic use, reuse and recycling
- Broaden awareness of plastic investment risks and opportunities