While many companies have already started individual efforts to address the issue of plastic waste in the environment, the formal announcement of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) on Jan. 16 brings together about 30 companies in a global collaborative effort.
In a live video conference from London today, several members of the AEPW spoke to the alliance’s four pillars: Infrastructure, innovation, education and clean-up. Peter Bakker, President & CEO, World Business Council on Sustainable Development, commented that the alliance must “move on all four fronts” in order to address the current problem of plastic waste in the environment.
|Speaking with host Hannah Vaughan Jones at the live media presentation were (left) Peter Bakker, President & CEO, World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and (right) David Taylor, Chairman, President and CEO of Procter & Gamble; Bob Patel, CEO, LyondellBasel; and Laurent Auguste, Senior Executive Vice President, Veolia.|
Reducing plastic waste in the environment must be addressed by all parties in the value chain, noted Bob Patel, CEO, LyondellBasel. “It’s not just one part of the value chain that can do this—we all have to participate in this multi-pronged approach.”
David Taylor, Chairman, President and CEO of Procter & Gamble, concurred. “We have to engage with companies across the value chain in areas such as finance, engineering and technology, and create the value in plastic waste. I invite all companies in the value chain to join us.”
Jim Fitterling, CEO of Dow Chemical Co., said that the alliance has a “clear message to end plastic waste” by working with people and governments. A focus will be cities and rivers in India and Asia, where citizens use waterways as a convenient way to dispose of household waste. “We’ll tackle that as a source” of plastic waste entering the ocean, he said.
Dow is a founding member of the AEPW. “Keeping our environment free of waste is important to the future of Dow and our industry, but more importantly, it’s important to the future of our planet,” said Fitterling in a statement. “This initiative brings together companies, governments, NGOs and consumers to accelerate efforts to drive innovation, provide much-needed resources, and take decisive action to put an end to plastic waste in the environment.”
Martin Brudermiller, CEO, BASF, commented that it is imperative to “bring people together to collect and recycle,” while realizing that “no one size fits all.” The goal, he noted, is to “capture the value of plastic waste and use it to create more value and really close the loop.”
Fitterling reiterated the “common goal” of everyone in the alliance, which is to end plastic waste and capture the value therein. “The sustainable value of plastics in undeniable,” he said. For example, plastics enable the sustainability of many other things such as food. Forty percent of food is wasted before it gets to consumers, Fitterling noted, pointing out that plastics prevent this waste.
While it was acknowledged that some groups would like to end plastics altogether, Fitterling noted that he is not in favor of bans. “We have differences when it comes to bans,” he said. “But it’s about plastics and the environment, not plastics or the environment.”