The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), a group of 28 companies that produce plastics and consumer goods, announced last week that it has pledged to spend $1.5 billion over the next five years to reduce plastic waste. Global companies like Exxon Mobil, Dow DuPont, Procter & Gamble, Royal Dutch Shell and BASF are all part of the AEPW.
The investment will go toward building waste collection infrastructure in Asia and Africa, designing waste-management systems in cities close to rivers that transport waste to the ocean, educating governments, cleaning up highly-polluted areas and funding startups that are developing technologies to prevent plastic waste.
As the plastic waste problem continues to grow, 8 million tons are now ending up in the oceans every year, and this is resulting in bans on some single-use plastic products.
According to the AEPW, 90 percent of global ocean pollution comes from only 10 rivers. More than half of the “land-based plastic litter” that leaks into oceans comes from five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
A spokesperson for the AEPW said that none of China’s major plastics and chemical groups are part of the alliance, but the team is hoping to change that.
While most of the alliance members are plastic makers, there are two that make consumer goods: Procter & Gamble and Henkel. More are expected to join the group in the near future. Kraft Heinz, Nestle and Unilever have already made individual pledges to transition their packaging into materials that are recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
In an October report, IHS Markit, a London-based information provider, said that 59 percent of global plastic waste comes from single-use plastic packaging.
“While there is no single answer to the issue of plastic waste in the environment, we are collaborating to promote infrastructure, education and engagement, innovation and clean-up efforts to keep plastic waste in the right place,” said the AEPW website.
Image via Monica Volpin