New Plastics Economy report shines light on manufacturers’ plastics volumes

New Plastics Economy report shines light on manufacturers’ plastics volumes

March 14, 2019
Marcia González

Welcome findings in the Spring 2019 Global Commitment report, but much more needs to be done

Leading companies including Carrefour, Colgate Palmolive, Mars Incorporated, Nestlé, SC Johnson, Coca-Cola and Unilever have, for the first time, publicly disclosed their annual plastic packaging volumes, in doing so adding some much-needed transparency to today’s plastic system.

The data has been published in the Spring 2019 New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, compiled by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation with input from UN Environment. Launched last October, the Global Commitment already has more than 350 organizations signed up to what it describes as ‘a common vision of a circular economy for plastics, keeping it in the economy and out of the oceans’.

Among the highlights in the report, the Foundation reveals that consumer goods companies and retailers have committed to increase recycled content in their packaging to an average of 25% by 2025, compared with the current global average of just 2%. Leading businesses and governments have also pledged to end the use of problematic and unnecessary plastic, including PVC and single-use plastic straws and carrier bags – many of them by the end of 2019. Additionally, 40 brands and retailers are piloting or expanding reuse and refill schemes.

“The targets and action plans set out in this report are a significant step forward compared with the pace of change of past decades,” stated Sander Defruyt, New Plastics Economy lead. “However, they are still far from truly matching the scale of the problem, particularly when it comes to the elimination of unnecessary items and innovation towards reuse models. Ambition levels must continue to rise to make real strides in addressing global plastic pollution by 2025 – and moving from commitment to action is crucial. Major investments, innovations and transformation programs need to start now.”

Just 31 companies of around 150 have disclosed their plastic consumption for 2017 but between them they pump out a combined 8m metric tonnes of plastic packaging a year. Coca-Cola, in fact, uses 3m million on its own, while Nestlé revealed it puts out 1.7m tonnes annually, Unilever 610,000 tonnes and Danone 750,000 tonnes. Danone even went to the extent of breaking down the types of plastic it distributes.

The report is also useful in that the companies lay down in writing exactly what they are doing to achieve their plastic-reduction goals, so while Coca-Cola has come in for criticism for its overall consumption, it has at least disclosed its volumes and through its World Without Waste program is seemingly being proactive in addressing its plastic footprint.

Plastic Free World Conference & Expo 2019 will take place from Thursday 27 June to Friday 28 June, at the Kap Europa, Frankfurt Messe, Frankfurt, Germany. To register for this highly focused and solutions-driven event, please click here. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please email


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