Ensia

A strategic approach to plastics

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Courtesy of Ensia

Plastic’s versatility renders it almost indispensable in today’s world, but plastic waste is a huge environmental burden. To make it possible to both benefit from plastics and reduce their environmental costs, the Plastic Disclosure Project, a global initiative of the Ocean Recovery Alliance, is challenging businesses and others to commit themselves to measure, manage, reduce and even productively use plastic waste. By tracking their “plastic footprints” and developing a closed-loop approach to using plastic, organizations can recognize inefficiencies, streamline production, increase customer loyalty, benefit from waste recovery and cut costs. According to PDP, improved management of plastic could save consumer goods companies up to $4 billion per year.

To that end, PDP provides a central registry where companies, governments, universities and other entities can sign up to disclose how much plastic waste they produce and receive support and encouragement as they work to reduce its environmental toll. In addition, it provides information on the impacts of plastics and curates a “Solutions” page that provides links to specific opportunities and strategies for reducing plastic waste as well as recycling and even upcycling plastic products.

This past summer PDP partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme and the environmental impact assessment company Trucost to release a report on the natural capital cost of plastic in the consumer goods industry. The first to assign monetary value to the impacts of plastics on marine environments, the study provides information organizations can use to internalize environmental costs of plastics and change their risk management accordingly.

PDP sees an opportunity for businesses to act on plastics before most legislators, consumers, investors and NGOs. There is an impending demand for change, and as the PDP reminds us, “Companies that act first are usually the ones to profit most.”

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