The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has said that around 20 trillion flexible packaging items, such as wrappers, pouches and sachets, will end up in the ocean by 2040, unless 'more ambitious binding policy and regulatory measures' are made, together with greater action on the part of businesses.
The foundation made its assessment as it launched its Global Commitment: Five Years In publication, to mark five years since the establishment of its Global Commitment, in partnership with the UN Environment Programme, to stop plastic packaging from becoming waste.
Since the Global Commitment was launched, business signatories that between them represent 20% of the world’s plastic packaging industry have made substantial steps in tackling plastic waste, increasing their use of recycled plastics by 1.5 million tonnes per annum.
This is equivalent to a barrel of oil left in the ground every two seconds, the foundation noted.
'Far Off Track'
However, despite these positive moves, a large part of the business sector is set to take action, and the world remains "far off track from fixing the plastic pollution crisis", according to Sander Defruyt, plastics initiative lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
“The learnings from the Global Commitment over the past five years have shown it’s possible to make meaningful progress towards keeping fossil resources in the ground and plastics out of the ocean," he commented.
“When we took our first steps on this path, there was limited action on this topic. The efforts over the last five years have allowed us to make a major step forward. We now know that progress to tackling plastic waste at a global scale is possible, and where the key hurdles are that are preventing further change."
Rules And Measures
An international, legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, which is currently being negotiated, needs to be accelerated, in order to establish rules and measures for facilitating plastic waste reduction.
"We can’t pick or choose from either of these measures – both are crucial to ensure progress is pushed further and faster," Defruyt added.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the companies that have signed up to the Global Commitment have demonstrated that progress on tackling plastic waste is achievable through a collective effort.