The New Plastics Economy initiative took shape in May 2016, uniting more than 40 major companies in a push to re-think the use of plastics in line with circular economy principles. Its first workshop saw companies including Coca-Cola, DuPont, L'Oréal, MARS, M&S, Unilever and Veolia exploring key plastics issues with representatives from Copenhagen and the London Waste and Recycling Board.
Established by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), the three-year initiative will build on the recommendations set out in The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics report, launched at the World Economic Forum in January 2016. The report sheds light on the challenges and opportunities presented by the global plastic packaging value chain. In particular, it highlights that the plastic packaging industry loses some $80-120bn annually in waste materials and causes environmental impacts of at least $40bn.
By taking a systemic and collaborative approach, the New Plastics Economy initiative aims to inspire concrete, scalable action, overcoming the limitations of previous fragmented attempts at driving change. It envisages a fundamental, system-wide transformation, with stakeholders acting collectively towards shared goals. Starting with plastic packaging, it hopes to unleash a wave of innovation within the broader plastics value chain, catalysing both commercial and environmental benefits.
The EMF will take the lead, partnering with multiple companies, cities, philanthropists, policymakers, academics, students, NGOs and entrepreneurs. The partners will draw inspiration from Project MainStream, a cross-industry initiative to help businesses accelerate the transition to a circular economy.
The New Plastics Economy's five focus areas:
Collaborative dialogue – United leading companies and cities across the global plastics value chain for the first time to explore ways forward and agree pilot projects.
Re-thinking plastic – Reviewing plastic packaging materials, formats, after-use systems and standards in order to create a picture of 'what good looks like' in economic and environmental terms.
Innovating for scale – Developing innovative solutions with the potential to scale globally.
Building knowledge – Informing efforts through critical economic and scientific research.
Engaging with stakeholders – Inviting people including citizens, teachers, students, policymakers, NGOs and industry associations to participate in redesigning the plastic system.
For more information, please visit www.newplasticseconomy.org.