More than 40 leaders of international organisations dealing in plastics have backed an action plan to boost the global rate of recycled or reused plastic from 14% to 70%.
The strategy is presented in The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing Action, a study by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF). Last year, the authors declared there could be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050.
The report suggests a strategy for better packaging and increased recycling. It finds that 20% of plastic packaging could be reused profitably, for example by replacing single-use plastic bags with reusable alternatives or by designing innovative packaging models based on product refills.
A further 50% of plastic packaging could be recycled profitably if improvements were made to design and the systems for management after use.
Innovation in packaging design, recyclable and compostable materials, and reprocessing technologies are all likely to be required to tackle the remaining 30%.
The New Plastics Economy initiative brings together more than 40 leading organisations representing the entire global plastics industry, from chemical manufacturers to consumer goods producers, retailers, city authorities and recyclers, to work together towards a more effective global system.
Partners include Amcor, Coca-Cola, Danone, Mars, Novamont, Unilever and Veolia.
Dame Ellen MacArthur, EMF founder, said: “The initiative has attracted widespread support, and across the industry we are seeing strong initial momentum and alignment on the direction to take. New Plastics Economy provides a clear plan for redesigning the global plastics system, paving the way for concerted action.”
Meanwhile, Defra resources minister Therese Coffey said the Government was committed to increasing recycling rates for packaging.
In answer to written Parliamentary question, she said: ”Current policies and regulations have resulted in a significant increase in recycling over the past decade, with recycling of packaging rising from around 46% in 2005 to 59% in 2014, but we recognise that more needs to be done.
”The targets for plastic and glass packaging are set to increase up to 2020 and we recently consulted on possible increases for other materials.”