Big brands back ocean plastic waste pledge

Major multinationals such as Unilever, Coca-Cola and Volvo pledged to reduce marine plastic week when they signed the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter at a meeting of G7 environment ministers, businesses and NGOs in Halifax, Canada last week.

Coca-Cola, Walmart, Unilever, Ikea, Volvo, Nestle and other big multinationals are supporting a campaign by five of the G7 industrialized nations to reduce marine plastic waste and ensure that 100 per cent of plastics are recyclable by 2030.

The G7 Ocean Plastics Charter was originally adopted by Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy, along with the European Union in June, reported AFP. The United States and Japan abstained.

Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna described the support of the multinational consumer goods makers and retailers as a “new partnership with business” to reduce plastic waste.

“Global challenges like finding solutions to beat plastic pollution and marine litter require bold action ‎from governments, industries and businesses,” said McKenna, adding that the companies which signed the Charter are “showing the kind of leadership Canada is encouraging at home and around the world to ensure a healthy and prosperous future for our kids and grandkids”.

Many of the multinationals are working hard to come up with new designs, better packaging and even packagingfree alternatives to reduce plastic waste. Unilever, for example, announced that it was launching a non-profit to reduce consumer and business waste, while Volvo – the only carmaker invited to the summitdeclared earlier this year that it aims for at least 25 per cent of the plastics used in each new vehicle to be made from recycled material by 2025.

“I think the whole industry can reduce its plastics by 30 or 40 per cent, just with technologies that are available,” Unilever CEO Paul Polman said. “Reuse or recycling alone is not enough.”

According to Polman, public attitudes towards plastics are “drastically changing” and consumers are now ahead of industry in their demand for environmentally products. “One of the fastest growing aisles in supermarkets is plasticfree aisles,” he said.

Image credit: Susan White/USFWS

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