Oil Companies Among Founders of New Global Alliance to End Plastic Waste in the Environment

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Oil Companies Among Founders of New Global Alliance to End Plastic Waste in the Environment

01/16/2019
Alliance to End Plastic Waste logo

HOUSTON — A new global alliance has formed among companies from the consumer goods value chain to put an end to plastic waste in the environment.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) has committed more than $1 billion with the goal of investing $1.5 billion over the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment. It is made up of nearly 30 member companies — including ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LLC, Procter & Gamble and more — that are located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The AEPW will develop scalable solutions to minimize and manage plastic waste, and promote solutions for used plastics by helping to enable a circular economy.

"Everyone agrees that plastic waste does not belong in our oceans or anywhere in the environment. This is a complex and serious global challenge that calls for swift action and strong leadership. This new alliance is the most comprehensive effort to date to end plastic waste in the environment," said David Taylor, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble, and chairman of the AEPW. "I urge all companies, big and small and from all regions and sectors, to join us."

A not-for-profit organization, the AEPW has been working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as a founding strategic partner.

"While our effort will be global, the alliance can have the greatest impact on the problem by focusing on the parts of the world where the challenge is greatest; and by sharing solutions and best practices so that these efforts can be amplified and scaled-up around the world," said Peter Bakker, president and CEO of World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

An initial set of projects the AEPW will focus on include:

  • Partnering with cities to design integrated waste management systems in large urban areas where infrastructure is lacking, especially those along rivers which transport vast amounts of unmanaged plastic waste from land to the ocean. This work will include engaging local governments and stakeholders, and generate economically sustainable and replicable models that can be applied across multiple cities and regions. The alliance will pursue partnerships with cities located in high plastic leakage areas. 
  • Funding the Incubator Network by Circulate Capital to develop and promote technologies, business models and entrepreneurs that prevent ocean plastic waste and improve waste management and recycling, with the intention of creating a pipeline of projects for investment, with an initial focus on Southeast Asia.
  • Developing an open source, science-based global information project to support waste management projects globally with reliable data collection, metrics, standards and methodologies to help governments, companies, and investors focus on and accelerate actions to stop plastic waste from entering the environment. The alliance will explore opportunities to partner with leading academic institutions and other organizations already involved in similar types of data collection.
  • Create a capacity building collaboration with intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, to conduct joint workshops and training for government officials and community-based leaders to help them identify and pursue the most effective and locally-relevant solutions in the highest priority areas.
  • Supporting Renew Oceans to aid localized investment and engagement. The program is designed to capture plastic waste before it reaches the ocean from the 10 major rivers shown to carry the vast majority of land-based waste to the ocean. The initial work will support the Renew Ganga project, which has also received support from the National Geographic Society.

"History has shown us that collective action and partnerships between industry, governments and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] can deliver innovative solutions to a global challenge like this," said Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, and a vice chairman of AEPW. "The issue of plastic waste is seen and felt all over the world. It must be addressed and we believe the time for action is now."

In the months ahead, the AEPW will make additional investments and drive progress in four key areas: 

  1. Infrastructure development to collect and manage waste and increase recycling;
  2. Innovation to advance and scale new technologies that make recycling and recovering plastics easier and create value from all post-use plastics;  
  3. Education and engagement of governments, businesses and communities to mobilize action; and
  4. Cleanup of concentrated areas of plastic waste already in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste, like rivers, that carry land-based plastic waste to the sea.   

"Success will require collaboration and coordinated efforts across many sectors — some that create near-term progress and others that require major investments with longer timelines," commented Veolia CEO Antoine Frérot, a vice chairman of the AEPW. "Addressing plastic waste in the environment and developing a circular economy of plastics requires the participation of everyone across the entire value chain and the long term commitment of businesses, governments, and communities. No one country, company or community can solve this on their own."

According to the Ocean Conservancy, nearly 80 percent of plastic waste in the ocean begins as litter on land, the vast majority of which travels to the sea by rivers. One study estimates that more than 90 percent of river-borne plastic in the ocean comes from 10 major rivers around the world — eight in Asia and two in Africa. Sixty percent of plastic waste in the ocean can be sourced to five countries in Southeast Asia.