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Major Global Investors Urge Brands and Retailers to Decisively Act on ‘Plastics Crisis’Major Global Investors Urge Brands and Retailers to Decisively Act on ‘Plastics Crisis’

The investors, who manage combined assets of $10 trillion, are calling for a dramatic reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic packaging.

Norbert Sparrow

May 8, 2023

2 Min Read
sign saying call to action
MCCAIG/iStock via Getty Images

The latest salvo in the war on plastics was fired last week in a statement from investors managing combined assets of $10 trillion calling on consumer goods companies and retail grocery stores to “act more swiftly to address the plastics crisis.”

Issued on May 3, 2023, and signed by 185 investors with a bankroll that exceeds the gross domestic product of all but a handful of countries, the letter calls on such global brands as Coca-Cola, Kroger, and Nestlé to make a “real and scalable change” in reducing consumption of single-use plastic packaging and phasing out hazardous chemicals. The signatories also urge these companies to “advocate for — not against — the policy framework needed to support these actions." Namely, they are asking brand owners and major retail outlets to support various initiatives such as the Global Plastics Treaty and the European Union’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation.

According to the joint statement, the “estimated costs to society from plastic pollution . . . exceed $100 billion per year.”

“It’s worrying to see most companies in the [fast-moving consumer goods] and grocery retail sectors are taking limited action to mitigate the financial risks posed by plastics,” commented Angélique Laskewitz, executive director of VBDO, the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development that is coordinating the campaign. “Today investors are sending a clear signal to these companies they will face ever-increasing pressure if they don’t act soon to substantially reduce their plastic footprint.”

This echoes a report from the Minderoo Foundation, which warned that the plastics supply chain, from the petrochemicals industry to the makers of plastics and additives, faces billions of dollars worth of legal claims, as reported in PlasticsToday in October 2022. "It is only a matter of time before the courts, regulators, and lawmakers determine who will pay the cost of poisoning our planet and people," said Dr Andrew Forrest AO, chairman of the Minderoo Foundation.

The hyperbole plays well with the general public and the media, but the plastics industry must not shy away from presenting a forceful, science-based counternarrative. The Minderoo Foundation may be right about one thing: Time is running out.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree. Reach him at [email protected].

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