- On Wednesday, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched the "New Plastics Economy" initiative, garnering support from corporate giants including Unilever, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, and Mars.
- The three-year initiative — following the Foundation's January report titled "The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics" — calls on stakeholders to apply the circular economy to plastic packaging. The report found 95% of the value of plastic packaging material (worth up to $120 billion annually) is wasted.
- The goals of the initiative are to create an "after-use" for plastics, reduce plastic pollution, and "decouple plastics from fossil feedstocks," as reported in Environmental Leader.
Just last week, Ellen MacArthur Foundation CEO Andrew Morlet expressed the benefits of the circular economy in a sustainability forum hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Morlet explained that applying the circular economy to value chains such as plastic packaging is an incredible business opportunity, stating, "It represents a mind shift in the way in which companies view markets and operate. It requires a more systemic approach, cross-functional collaboration within companies ... In short, it represents a new way of thinking and working."
Jeff Wooster, global sustainability leader of Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics, echoed these sentiments in an interview with Waste Dive, stating, "With many natural resources already in short supply, there's an urgent need to change our behavior and prevent the consequences of over-consumption."
Wooster went on to explain that transforming plastic packaging can also have positive effects on food waste reduction and energy recovery, but it requires compliance from plastic manufacturers and consumers alike. If all stakeholders share the same understanding about the benefits of implementing the circular economy into plastics packaging, then the Foundation's initiative will be a positive springboard into the inevitable closed-loop economic system.