Imagine a common global vision of a “circular economy” in which plastic never becomes waste or pollution.
That’s what the Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) signed up for when it became the first national trade association to endorse the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s vision for a New Plastics Economy, moving Canada toward a future of zero plastic waste.
The idea is based on a report, “The New Plastics Economy – Rethinking the future of plastics,” which was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016. Since then, more than 400 organizations have already signed the singular vision of a new plastics economy, known as the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.
Setting ambitious targets for 2025, business and government signatories are required to take three actions: eliminate all problematic and unnecessary plastic items; innovate to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable; and circulate all plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.
The extraordinary project, which is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with the UN Environment agency, and receives analytical support from McKinsey & Company, has on-boarded leading brands such as Keurig Dr Pepper, Tupperware Brands, Graham Packaging (a Reynolds Group company), and Berry Global Inc.
Under the agreement, businesses and governments will stop using problematic plastic packaging including PVC, single-use plastic straws, and carrier bags. Companies have also set targets to increase recycled content in their packaging to an average of 25% by 2025, compared with the current global average of just 2%. And, 40 consumer packaged goods companies and retailers – including Carrefour, Colgate Palmolive, Danone, L’Oréal, MARS, Nestlé, The Coca-Cola Company, and Unilever – have already elected to publicly report their annual volumes of plastic packaging production and use.
It will be a challenging journey, noted FCPC, but reports that 90% of Canadians in a recent national poll conducted by Abacus Data said they want the sector to care deeply about its impact on the environment.
Still, we’re betting the association billing itself as Canada’s food and product safety voice of industry stands a good chance in making an impact.
Food processing is the largest employer in the manufacturing sector in Canada employing nearly 300,000 workers in over 6,000 manufacturing facilities, while also contributing nearly $29 billion annually to the economy.