An action plan put forward by circular economy charity Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos suggests nearly three-quarters of plastic packaging should be reused or recycled.
In a statement on 16 January, the EMF said the action plan, laid out in a new report The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action, was launched by the two organisations in Davos, Switzerland and would see 70% of plastic packaging reused and recycled globally, up from today's recycling rate of 14%. More than 40 industry leaders have endorsed the global action plan, according to EMF.
The new report, it said, provides “a transition strategy” for the plastics industry to design better packaging, increase recycling rates, and introduce new models for making better use of packaging.
Some of the suggestions by the report include innovative packaging models based on product refills and replacing sing-use plastic bags with reusable alternatives. The measures, it said, could see 20% of plastic packaging profitably re-used.
“A further 50% of plastic packaging could be profitably recycled if improvements are made to packaging design and systems for managing it after use,” the report suggested
The remaining 30% of plastic packaging, equivalent to 10 billion garbage bags per year, will need “fundamental redesign and innovation”, the statement added.
The action plan was produced as part of the New Plastics Economy initiative, which was launched in May 2016, and brings together more than 40 leading organisations representing the global plastics industry.
The initiative covers industry contributors from chemical manufacturers to consumer goods producers, retailers, city authorities and recyclers.
“This could drive systemic change. The plan puts innovation at the heart of a strategy that could shift the entire system while unlocking a billion dollar business opportunity,” said Dominic Waughray, head of public-private partnership, member of the executive committee, World Economic Forum.
Alignment along value chains between the public and private sector is key to this, he added.
Over this year, the initiative will focus on innovation, launching two global innovation challenges to kick-start the redesign of materials and packaging formats.
It will also start building a set of global common standards (global plastics protocol) for packaging design, concentrating initially on the most impactful changes.