Procrastination is not the way forward and stopgap measures are not enough to tackle a problem as massively widespread and urgent as plastic pollution. Jeremy Alun-Jones, COO of UK-based private equity firm Cibus Capital LLP ), notes that 79% of plastic waste is still ending up in landfills and oceans; yet only 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide.
What is needed, he says, is ‘Net Zero Plastic to Nature’, where the use of 100% recycled plastic or acceptable alternatives are demanded from the bottom up, creating a circular system.
It’s a realistic approach, according to Alun-Jones. As he points out, Net Zero Plastic to Nature ‘isn’t anti-plastic, it recognises that plastic can still be used responsibly in a circular economy, providing all of it is recycled’.
It acknowledges that plastics help to address the food waste problem. Some alternatives are unfortunately not yet as effective as plastic in preserving food across long journeys.
He argues that adopting a Net Zero Plastic to Nature strategy would drive demand for recycling solutions from the bottom-up. Producers in the supply chain will have to switch to recycled plastic, driving demand for competition in the recycling industry, moving more finance towards this sector and spurring innovation for alternatives to virgin plastic as well as recycling techniques.
“Whilst we were delighted to see the increasing recognition of the need to tackle the climate impact of our agricultural and food system, it was disappointing that plastic pollution was not a key theme at COP27 this year,” Alun-Jones says. “Society places a huge demand on the world’s biggest plastic polluters for their products but has failed to build the circular systems that can tackle the plastic waste problem. The potentially game-changing Extended Producer Responsibility, an incentivisation to meaningfully minimise packaging, has been delayed to at least 2024, and our supermarket shelves are still lined with ‘Not yet recyclable’ plastic-wrapped products. It is imperative that all players in the supply chain commit to transition to 100% recycled plastic. Policymakers, consumers, producers, retailers and wholesalers all have a role to play in embracing Net Zero Plastic to Nature and putting an end to plastic waste for good.”
Jeremy Alun-Jones is COO of Cibus Capital, with oversight of operations, valuations, finance, and risk management. He chairs the Cibus Investment and Valuation Committees and is also chair of The Summer Berry Company, a local organic berry producer based in the south of England. The Cibus Funds invests in rapidly-growing food chain companies that adopt technologies to enable the profitable and sustainable capture of high-growth markets and produce opportunities. A firm ESG suporter, the firm also ranks and measures all investments against the criteria of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.