CDP has today announced that it will expand its global environmental disclosure system to help solve the plastic pollution problem, with expertise and support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, Minderoo Foundation, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Despite the scale of the plastic pollution problem and extent of its impacts, many companies still have a limited understanding of how they contribute to it and their exposure to related commercial, legal, and reputational risks. However, plastic pollution has been shown to be an important issue for companies and capital markets. Responding to a consultation run by CDP in 2022:

  • 88% of companies said plastic was a relevant issue
  • A third (32.5%) did not have plastic-related targets
  • 81% of responding capital markets and supply chain members said that the information requested by CDP on plastics would be useful to inform financial or procurement decisions [1]

This expansion will include the addition of questions and metrics on plastics into CDP’s annual disclosure questionnaires, beginning with a pilot in 2023. Given the wealth of existing best practice and leadership on the topic, CDP’s approach will be collaborative and informed by existing frameworks, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNEP’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment framework, which has been running since 2018.

The full details of CDP’s first year of plastics disclosure, including which companies will be requested to disclose initially, will be released in early 2023, prior to the April launch of the disclosure platform. This is a significant step forward in delivering CDP’s 2025 strategy, announced last year, which will see the not-for-profit widen its scope to cover planetary boundaries, including oceans, land use, biodiversity, food production and waste.

Nicolette Bartlett, Chief Impact Officer at CDP, said: “CDP’s approach is based on our knowledge that governments, companies and investors cannot manage what they do not measure, so expanding knowledge and data on corporate plastic use, obtained through disclosure at scale, is essential to solving the plastics problem. With over 13,000 companies worth 64% of global market capitalization already disclosing through CDP, our disclosure system is uniquely positioned to scale disclosure on plastics across the global economy. Not only will this drive corporate action to reduce plastic pollution, but it will also be critical in boosting transparency and accountability, redirecting capital towards sustainable activities and supporting governments to develop robust and ambitious policies.”

Winnie Lau, project director for Pew’s preventing ocean plastics project, said: Solving the plastic pollution problem benefits both people and the planet, but it requires a comprehensive and thorough understanding of the issue and can only be achieved through system wide change. This finding is detailed by the first-of-its-kind global modeling in our report “Breaking the Plastic Wave.” Pew, CDP, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Minderoo Foundation have come together with the collective ambition to build a plastics disclosure initiative that will rival those in existence for carbon emissions, helping companies understand and tackle their plastic footprints and, in turn, guide governments and financial institutions on their policy measures and sustainable investments.

Minderoo Foundation is committed to increasing transparency throughout the plastic value chain. Chair and co-founder Andrew Forrest says, “We cannot fix a plastic pollution problem we do not wholly understand or see. Last year, we made huge progress in identifying who is financing the single-use plastic industry – the Plastic Waste Makers Index. But there is still so much to uncover. We urgently need this precise information to reward the businesses truly trying to end plastic pollution and call out businesses engaged in greenwashing. This will give policymakers the visibility they need to stop this problem once and for all.”

Rob Opsomer, Executive Lead – Systemic Initiatives, at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says: “The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, launched in 2018 by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNEP, has created unprecedented transparency towards a circular economy for plastics, with companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally committing to and reporting on ambitious 2025 targets. Building on this momentum, the CDP framework will expand reporting on some of the key Global Commitment metrics, enabling thousands more businesses to track their progress towards a circular economy for plastics and providing valuable insights for investors and policymakers.