Nearly 1.400 companies in Europe can, from today, disclose their plastic-related impacts for the first time as CDP’s global environmental disclosure platform opens for 2023 reporting. Companies will disclose information on the production and use of the most problematic plastics, i.e., plastic polymers, durable plastics, and plastic packaging. This data – where publicly disclosed – will be made available from September by CDP, the EU-funded non-profit which runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions. Nearly 20.000 organisations are already disclosing through CDP globally, including companies in Europe representing 75% of total European stock market value.
High-impact plastic sectors invited to disclose include:
- Chemicals: 100 petrochemical companies produce 90% of all single-use plastic waste generated globally
- Fashion / apparel: Many apparel companies have been slow to transition to recycled materials – for some online stores, just 1% of items contain recycled materials
- Food and beverage: Plastic packaging for food and beverage products is a major source of pollution
- Fossil fuels: about 4% total annual use of oil and gas globally is for plastic production
- Packaging: Packaging was one of the largest applications of plastics globally in 2021, using 44% of all plastics
Responding to a CDP plastics consultation in 2022, 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.
Europe is a region where regulatory pressure on companies regarding plastics has been growing strongest, with implementation being progressed for directives on Single Use Plastics, as well as Packaging. The continent supplied 15% of the world’s plastic, as of 2021.
Globally, companies and investors face significant financial, physical, legal, technological, regulatory and reputational risks as a result of the plastic pollution crisis. As regulation is implemented, companies face US$100 billion annual financial risk if governments require them to cover waste management costs at expected volumes and recyclability.
Investments in petrochemicals and plastics worth about US$400 billion are at risk of becoming stranded assets.
The decisions companies take in the next decade relating to their dependence on plastic production, use and disposal will make or break our ability to deliver a thriving economy that works for people and planet.
According to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a transition to a circular economy in Europe could add €900 billion to GDP by 2030, increase household income by €3.000 a year, and halve CO2 emissions compared with current levels.
Enabling the creation, collection and distribution of relevant data is a vital first step.
“Our plastic pollution crisis is no secret, yet many companies, investors and policymakers lack the data needed to understand and act”, says Maxfield Weiss, Executive Director at CDP Europe. “To act effectively, all companies that create plastic waste must see how they contribute to this crisis, and start to put in place equitable transition plans to address their impact. Ahead of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and European sustainability reporting standards making it mandatory for companies report widely on their environmental impacts, including microplastics, I’m pleased that CDP’s system can drive plastic-related disclosure and access to data at-scale. It builds the foundation for transformative action to end plastic pollution and waste.”
In 2022, six companies — including Amazon, ExxonMobil and McDonald’s  — faced shareholder petitions asking for more disclosures on efforts to reduce plastic.
Companies will disclose as negotiations continue on the landmark UN Plastics Treaty. Corporate action – and data to track it – will be crucial to its implementation.
CDP’s plastics questions build on existing frameworks including those designed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNEP’S Global Commitment Framework. CDP is working on its expansion to plastics with expertise and support from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and Minderoo Foundation.