plastic waste

Plastic credits to help packaging producers go 100 per cent recyclable

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A “plastic credit” system designed to reduce waste has been backed by major food packaging producers including Danone, Tetra Pak and Nestle.

The idea is similar to carbon credits, which help companies offset their carbon emissions by effectively paying for projects tasked with tackling the issue.

The 3R Initiative, a partnership between non-profits Verra and BVRio, will support recycling projects in developing nations with rigorous rules set for the number and value of the credits.

They will be purchased by firms aiming to achieve 100 per cent recycled plastic in their products, which is often difficult to achieve due to a lack of available materials and the transition time needed.

The money paid for the credits would go to plastic projects such as improving conditions and pay for waste pickers and recyclers in Brazil.

More than a dozen pilot credit-issuing projects will be developed in “plastic leakage hot-spots” in Latin America, Africa and south-east Asia, the 3R Initiative said.

“We wanted to create a mechanism that could incentivise new and expanded collection and recycling of waste plastic,” said Julianne Baroody, a director at US-based non-profit Verra, which will craft new standards for measuring plastic waste.

As consumers become increasingly aware of the damaging impact of plastic, companies have come under pressure to do more about their packaging waste.

The UK government recently announced a ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds in a bid to reduce plastic waste. 

Baroody told Reuters that Danone had asked for help to meet its recycling targets. The company currently has a 2025 goal for every piece of its packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable, up from 77 per cent of its plastic packaging in 2017.

Evian has also pledged to make all its plastic bottles from 100 per cent recycled plastic by 2025, up from 25 per cent at present.

The 3R initiative plans to launch its credit system by 2021, with Verra already running the world’s largest voluntary carbon credit market.

Research published in April showed that biodegradable and compostable plastic bags were still capable of carrying full loads of shopping even after being exposed to the natural environment for three years. 

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