New global alliance to help end plastic waste

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is a new non-profit organisation consisting of nearly 30 global companies that aims to advance solutions to help reduce mismanaged plastic waste in the environment

‘Innovative plastics make modern life possible, but even the most beneficial product can be harmful if it is misused – or disposed of improperly,’ comments Yousef Al-Benyan, CEO of SABIC, one of the founding members. ‘Consumers, governments and the business community alike are searching for ways to address this challenge. We wanted to make clear that the global community of companies that produce and use plastics can and must be part of the solution.’

The Alliance will be a stand-alone, not-for-profit organisation composed of companies from across the plastics and consumer goods value chains, including chemicals, plastics and consumer goods producers, retailers, converters and waste management companies. The organisation has committed over $1bn with the goal of investing $1.5bn over the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment by developing and bringing to scale solutions that will minimise and manage plastic waste and promote solutions for used plastics by helping to enable a circular economy. Work will focus on driving progress in four key areas:

  • Infrastructure development to manage waste and increase recycling.
  • Innovation to develop and bring to scale new materials and product designs that can minimise waste and new recycling technologies that can create value from all post-use plastics.
  • Education and engagement of governments at all levels, communities, businesses and individuals to enlist them in the movement to help end plastic waste in the environment.
  • Clean up of concentrated areas of waste in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste that carry land-based waste to the sea, like rivers.

According to Total, another founding member, research shows that nearly 80% of the plastic in oceans begins as litter on land, the vast majority of which travels to the sea down one of 10 major rivers around the world – eight in Asia and two in Africa. Separate research shows that 60% of ocean plastics can be sourced to five countries in Southeast Asia.

The Alliance membership represents global companies and located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Founding members include BASF, Berry Global, Braskem, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, Clariant, Covestro, Dow, DSM, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics Corporation, Henkel, LyondellBasell, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, NOVA Chemicals, OxyChem, PolyOne, Procter & Gamble, Reliance Industries, SABIC, Sasol, SUEZ, Shell, SCG Chemicals, Sumitomo Chemical, Total, Veolia, and Versalis (Eni). 

‘SABIC’s involvement in the Alliance reinforces our long-held commitment to sustainable development,’ continues Al-Benyan. For example, the company recycles waste from its own manufacturing processes, operating what is claimed to be the world’s largest carbon dioxide (CO
2) recovery and purification plant and using purified CO2 to make fertilisers and other chemical products. Meanwhile, a new SABIC project targets the chemical recycling of low-quality, contaminated mixed plastic waste streams into a suitable feedstock for its crackers in Europe. The feedstock, known as pyrolysis oil, is created by converting plastic waste that would otherwise be incinerated for energy recovery or end up in landfills.

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