The Alliance to End Plastic Waste was formed in 2019 and includes dozens of top companies from across the world, but it has been slow to make progress on its goals and should set more substantial and clear targets moving forward, according to a report by Planet Tracker.
The Planet Tracker report calls on the organization to re-evaluate its plastic waste targets, set investment levels that will help members work toward reducing waste and provide transparent and measurable reports on its progress. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) includes organizations from across the world’s plastics supply chain and has pledged $1.5 billion over a five-year period to reduce plastic waste by 15 million metric tons, or 3 million metric tons per year.
According to data analysis by Planet Tracker, over the first three years of the AEPW’s work, it has achieved less than 1% of its goal to divert plastic waste. With continuing growth in the organization, Planet Tracker says that also means the average waste target per member has dropped by 56%.
The report finds that the group has diverted and recycled approximately 4 kilotons of plastic waste through its first three years over a portfolio of 35 projects. The Planet Tracker report analyzed the organization’s most recent progress report from 2021.
The alliance includes more than 90 companies and organizations from across industries. They include the likes of Shell, Honeywell, EY, and Dow. In addition to reducing plastic waste, AEPW’s goals include expanding recycling infrastructure, developing new technologies, and engaging with governments, businesses, and the public.
As plastic waste continues to be a widespread international concern, more regulatory action is increasing to slow plastic’s impact. The United Nations pledged in early 2022 to end plastic waste and that it would develop a legally binding international agreement by 2024. On a smaller level, California passed the most stringent plastic waste law in the United States.
Planet Tracker says one of the fallbacks to this point of the AEPW’s work is that 92% of its organizations failed to publicly support the business statement for a legally binding UN treaty on plastic pollution. More than 90 businesses signed in support of the UN resolution, including Coca-Cola, Walmart, Starbucks, and AEPW members PepsiCo and Proctor & Gamble.
Planet Tracker also says more than two-thirds of AEPW’s founding members are members of the American Chemistry Council, which has opposed the Break Free from Plastics Pollution Act. The report also says eight of the world’s top 20 single-plastic producers are members of AEPW.
A spokeswoman for the alliance told Edie that the timing of COVID-19 impacted early achievements and that the group is “taking note of the recommendations included in the report and recognize that much more financial resources are needed to address the plastic waste challenge.”
According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development plastic waste amounted to 460 million metric tons in 2019 and is on pace to triple by 2060.
Other programs have set out to reduce plastic waste, such as the World Economic Forum’s ReSource: Plastic initiative, which aims to reduce hard-to-recycle and single-use plastic waste. That program reduced 71,000 metric tons of plastic between 2018 and 2020, organizers say.
“Ending plastic waste is a worthy aim and one we wholeheartedly support at Planet Tracker. But it must be meaningful,” says John Willis, director of research at Planet Tracker. “For an organization called the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a minimum aspiration should be to remove the plastic waste it produces itself.”