Plastic bottles

AEPW aims to develop solutions that will minimise the plastic problem

Procter & Gamble and Shell are among the founding members of a new not-for-profit alliance of global companies which aims to commit $1.5bn over the next five years to tackle the problem of plastic waste.

Formed of almost 30 companies that make, use, sell, process, collect and recycle the material, The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), aims to develop solutions that will minimise and manage the problem and promote solutions for used plastics through a circular economy.

Businesses located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East are among those that have signed up to the alliance, which has been working with World Business Council for Sustainable Development as a founding strategic partner.

Proposals include:

• Partnering with cities to design integrated waste management systems in large urban areas where infrastructure is lacking, especially those along rivers that transport vast amounts of unmanaged plastic waste from land to the ocean.

• Collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme to train government officials and community-based leaders to help them identify and action localised waste prevention.

• Establishing an incubator network with investment management firm Circulate Capital to develop and promote technologies, business models and entrepreneurs that prevent ocean plastic waste and improve waste management and recycling, with the intention of creating a pipeline of projects for investment, with an initial focus on Southeast Asia.

• Developing an open source, science-based global information project to support waste management projects globally with reliable data collection, metrics, standards, and methodologies.

• Supporting the Renew Oceans programme, to capture plastic waste before it reaches the ocean from the 10 major rivers shown to carry the vast majority of land-based waste to the ocean.

“Everyone agrees that plastic waste does not belong in our oceans or anywhere in the environment,” said David Taylor, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble, and chairman of the AEPW.

“This is a complex and serious global challenge that calls for swift action and strong leadership. This new alliance is the most comprehensive effort to date to end plastic waste in the environment. I urge all companies, big and small and from all regions and sectors, to join us.”

Read more: Nestlé announces actions to meet 100% recyclable packaging commitment

Over the coming months, the alliance also plans to focus on developing infrastructure to collect and manage waste and increase recycling, advancing and scaling new technologies that make recycling and recovering plastics easier, and creating value from all post-use plastics. Other aims include educating and engaging governments, businesses and communities to mobilise action, and cleaning up concentrated areas of plastic waste already in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste, like rivers, that carry land-based plastic waste to the sea.

Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell and a vice chairman of the AEPW, said: “History has shown us that collective action and partnerships between industry, governments and NGOs can deliver innovative solutions to a global challenge like this. The issue of plastic waste is seen and felt all over the world. It must be addressed and we believe the time for action is now.”