Together with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), The Ellen McArthur Foundation have published the second annual New Plastics Economy Global Commitment Progress report, including detailed data on the progress of individual business and government signatories. The Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report shows there has been significant progress in two key areas: the incorporation of recycled content in plastic packaging, and the phase out of the most commonly identified problematic items, such as PS and PVC packaging, undetectable carbon black pigments, and single-use plastic bags and straws.
However, there has been limited progress on increasing recyclability of plastic packaging and reducing the need for single-use packaging altogether: progress on shifting towards reusable packaging is limited, and elimination efforts remain focused on a relatively small set of materials and formats.
There are also significant differences in the rate of progress between signatories – while some have taken big steps forward, others have shown little to no progress against quantitative targets.
It is encouraging to see initial progress being made by signatories in year one after signing the Global Commitment, but a substantial acceleration of progress will be needed to achieve the 2025 targets. Based on these findings, we have made four calls to action that are vital to eradicating plastic pollution:
We call on businesses to:
- Take bold action on packaging types that are not recyclable today — either developing and executing a credible roadmap to make recycling work, or decisively innovating away from them
- Set ambitious reduction targets
Recognising that voluntary action by industry alone cannot deliver change on the scale and at the pace needed, we call on governments to:
- Establish policies and mechanisms, that provide dedicated and stable funding for collection and sorting, through fair industry contributions, such as EPR, without which recycling is unlikely to ever scale
- Set a global direction and create an international framework for action, through the UN Environment Assembly, building on the vision for a circular economy for plastics
“This report shows that leading governments are taking action, in particular on addressing some of most commonly identified problematic items, but increasingly also through the deployment of more comprehensive policy approaches, for example combining extended producer responsibility, fiscal incentives, and public procurement policies. We call on all governments to follow their lead, and come together at the global level, through the UN Environment Assembly, to work on an international framework for action, building on the vision for a circular economy for plastic.” – Ligia Noronha, Director of UNEP’s Economy Division
“This report shows encouraging progress towards the vision for a circular economy for plastic in some areas, particularly in the use of recycled plastic. But, going forward it will be crucial to also see major steps forward in rethinking what packaging is put on the market in the first place. We are calling on industry to rapidly increase efforts to reduce single-use packaging and eliminate packaging types that have no credible pathway to making recycling work in practice and at scale. We know industry cannot deliver the change alone, and we are calling on policymakers to put in place the enabling conditions, incentives and international framework to accelerate this transition.“ – Sander Defruyt, New Plastics Economy lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation