Companies from the plastics and consumer goods value chain have formed Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), an organization designed to promote solutions to eliminate plastic waste in the environment, especially in the ocean.
The AEPW, with nearly 30 member companies that include BASF Corp., Berry Global Inc., LyondellBasell, PolyOne, Procter & Gamble, SABIC, Suez and Veolia, has committed more than $1 billion toward the effort, with the goal of investing $1.5 billion throughout the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment. The alliance says it will develop and bring to scale solutions to minimize and manage plastic waste and promote solutions for used plastics by helping to enable a circular economy. Its membership represents global companies located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
“Everyone agrees that plastic waste does not belong in our oceans or anywhere in the environment,” says David Taylor, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble and chairman of the AEPW. “This is a complex and serious global challenge that calls for swift action and strong leadership. This new alliance is the most comprehensive effort to date to end plastic waste in the environment. I urge all companies, big and small and from all regions and sectors, to join us.”
Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell and a vice chairman of the AEPW, adds, “History has shown us that collective action and partnerships between industry, governments and NGOs (nongovernment organizations) can deliver innovative solutions to a global challenge like this. The issue of plastic waste is seen and felt all over the world. It must be addressed, and we believe the time for action is now.”
The AEPW is a nonprofit organization that includes companies that make, use, sell, process, collect and recycle plastics. This includes chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters and waste management companies, also known as the plastics value chain. The organization says it has been working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as a founding strategic partner.
The organization released its initial set of projects and collaborations, which it says reflect a range of solutions to help end plastic waste:
- Partnering with cities to design integrated waste management systems in large urban areas where infrastructure is lacking, especially those along rivers that transport unmanaged plastic waste from land to the ocean. This work includes engaging local governments and stakeholders and generating economically sustainable and replicable models that can be applied across multiple cities and regions, the AEPW says. The organization also will look to collaborate with other programs working with cities, such as Project STOP, which is working in Indonesia.
- Funding The Incubator Network by Circulate Capital, New York, to develop and promote technologies, business models and entrepreneurs that prevent ocean plastic waste and improve waste management and recycling. AEPW says it intends to create a pipeline of projects for investment, with an initial focus on Southeast Asia.
- Developing an open source, science-based global information project to support waste management projects globally with reliable data collection, metrics, standards and methodologies to help governments, companies and investors focus on and accelerate actions to stop plastic waste from entering the environment. AEPW says it will explore opportunities to partner with leading academic institutions and other organizations already involved in similar types of data collection.
- Creating a capacity-building collaboration with intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, to conduct joint workshops and trainings for government officials and community-based leaders to help them identify and pursue the most effective and locally relevant solutions in the highest priority areas.
- Supporting Renew Oceans, Salt Lake City, to aid localized investment and engagement. The program is designed to capture plastic waste from the 10 major rivers shown to carry the vast majority of land-based waste to the ocean before it reaches the ocean. The initial work will support the Renew Ganga project, which has also received support from the National Geographic Society.
In the months ahead, the AEPW says it will make additional investments and drive progress in four key areas:
- infrastructure development to collect and manage waste and increase recycling;
- innovation to advance and scale new technologies that make recycling and recovering plastics easier and create value from all postuse plastics;
- education and engagement of governments, businesses and communities to mobilize action; and
- clean up of concentrated areas of plastic waste already in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste, like rivers, that carry land-based plastic waste to the sea.
“Success will require collaboration and coordinated efforts across many sectors—some that create near-term progress and others that require major investments with longer timelines,” Veolia CEO Antoine Frérot, a vice chairman of the AEPW, says. “Addressing plastic waste in the environment and developing a circular economy of plastics requires the participation of everyone across the entire value chain and the long-term commitment of businesses, governments and communities. No one country, company or community can solve this on their own.”
“While our effort will be global, the alliance can have the greatest impact on the problem by focusing on the parts of the world where the challenge is greatest and by sharing solutions and best practices so that these efforts can be amplified and scaled-up around the world,” says Peter Bakker, president and CEO of World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Geneva.
AEPW founding members are BASF, Berry Global, Braskem, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LLC, Clariant, Covestro, Dow, DSM, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics Corp. USA, Henkel, LyondellBasell, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, NOVA Chemicals, OxyChem, PolyOne, P&G, Reliance Industries, SABIC, Sasol, SUEZ, Shell, SCG Chemicals, Sumitomo Chemical, Total, Veolia and Versalis (Eni).