LONDON, 31 August 2022: Planet Tracker today publicly calls out the Alliance to End Plastic Waste for failing to justify its name with the launch of a new report – Barely Credible.
The report provides data-backed evidence of the different ways the Alliance has undermined its own objectives to end plastic waste in the environment and protect the planet’, with key findings including:
- In the first three years of its five-year target, the AEPW achieved only 0.04% of its own goal to divert and recycle 9 million tonnes of plastic, but with 40% spend against budget.
- As more members have joined the AEPW, its plastic waste target has remained unchanged, meaning that the average waste target per member has declined 56% between 2019 and 2021 – from 107 Kt to 47 Kt annually.
- Over two-thirds (68%) of the AEPW’s founding members are also members of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), which recently campaigned against a tax on plastics in the US and opposes the Break Free from Plastics Pollution Act.
- 92% of total AEPW members failed to publicly support the Business Statement for a Legally Binding UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution earlier this year.
- Eight of the top 20 single-use plastic waste makers in the world are members of the AEPW.
- AEPW contributions accounted for a mere 2% of average shareholder returns and 3% of average free cash flow and average capital expenditure.
Thalia Bofiliou, Senior Investment Analyst (Plastics) at Planet Tracker, comments: “Our findings lay out a clear picture of a coalition that is greencrowding – a sophisticated form of greenwashing that sees global corporates hide behind an appealing group title in order to justify moving at the pace of the lowest common denominator. Our particular concern is the overwhelming focus across both the AEPW and ACC on solutions that target plastic waste as opposed to upstream production, which really puts the onus for pollution reduction back on the end-consumer. This is explained by the strong presence of globally dominant suppliers across the two collectives.”
Adds John Willis, Director of Research at Planet Tracker: “Ending plastic waste is a worthy aim and one we wholeheartedly support at Planet Tracker. But it must be meaningful. For an organisation called the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a minimum aspiration should be to remove the plastic waste it produces itself. Instead, many members are choosing to invest heavily in the expansion of plastic production, while failing to fund even meagre recovery and recycling targets through the coalition. The major plastic producers in the AEPW don’t even remove or recycle 99.99% of their own plastic waste. So whilst the number of projects may be eye-catching, we must look at the data, which clearly demonstrates that collectively the alliance has barely made a dent.”
The AEPW’s member organisations exist all along the global plastics supply chain, including Reliance Industries, ExxonMobil, Kirin, Sealed Air and Veolia.
Under the OECD’s business-as-usual scenario, global plastic waste is forecast to rise to 1,014 Mt by 2060, a near tripling compared to 2019 levels. The AEPW’s last Progress Report (2021) demonstrates that the AEPW had only diverted and recycled about 0.004 Mt since its creation in 2019, signaling that a dramatic ramp-up in recycling and recovery is needed.
The USD 1.5 billion pledged by the AEPW members over a five-year period represents only a fraction of their members’ financial capacity and it is trivial in comparison to the USD 400 billion the oil & gas and chemical industry plans to spend on new plastic manufacturing capacity in the coming years.
The report thus calls on the AEPW to:
- Set meaningful targets for the removal and recovery of plastic waste that take account of the magnitude of the global plastic waste problem.
- Set bold targets for investment levels for members which will support meaningful plastic waste solutions rather than diverting cashflow to continued facility expansion.
- Recognise that virgin plastic production is a major part of the plastic pollution problem.
- Provide transparent, measurable and audited progress reports so that AEPW executives can be held to account, especially when missing inadequate targets.
- Members, strategic partners and supporters of the Alliance, which includes well-known consultants such as Bain & Company, BCG, IBM and McKinsey & Company, should conduct due diligence to question their exposure to reputational risk via the AEPW.
ABOUT PLANET TRACKER
Planet Tracker is an award-winning non-profit financial think tank aligning capital markets with planetary boundaries. Created with the vision of a financial system that is fully aligned with a net zero, resilient, nature positive and just economy well before 2050, Planet Tracker generates breakthrough analytics that reveal both the role of capital markets in the degradation of our ecosystem and show the opportunities of transitioning to a zero-carbon, nature positive economy.
ABOUT PLASTICS TRACKER
The goal of Plastics Tracker is to stem the flow of environmentally damaging plastics and related-products that are creating global waste and health issues by transparently mapping capital flows and influence in the sector, starting from the production of resins through to product-use. By illuminating risks related to natural capital degradation and depletion, investors, lenders and other corporate stakeholders across the economy will be enabled to create more sustainable plastics products.
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