World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

Better business for a better Earth

At World Wildlife Fund, we believe deeply in the private sector’s ability to drive positive environmental change. WWF Sustainability Works is a forum for discussion around strategies, commitments, technologies and more that will help businesses achieve conservation goals that are good for the planet and their bottom lines. Follow WWF Sustainability Works on twitter at @WWFBetterBiz.

filtered by category: Plastic

  • Date: 17 August 2023
  • Author: Tessa Bellone, Plastic Waste Specialist, WWF

Many people considered the invention of single-use plastic to be the height of innovation at its time, with disposable plastic bags, cups and utensils skyrocketing in popularity due to their versatility and convenience. However, after decades of overconsumption and mismanagement, these same products have now become a symbol of environmental degradation – clogging our oceans with millions of tons of plastic pollution every year.

As the plastic pollution crisis grows in severity, the world is in dire need of new business models that are capable of matching the ease, function and affordability of single-use plastic without the devastating levels of waste.

That’s where reuse comes in.

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  • Date: 25 July 2023

The world has never been closer to reaching a global solution towards addressing the plastic pollution crisis. And with the Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution coming into view, the policy landscape around the world is advancing quickly – and it’s critical that the United States is keeping at pace.

In March 2023, World Wildlife Fund hosted its first-ever Plastic Policy Summit to help forge this path forward in the US by bringing together voices across the spectrum of plastic waste stakeholders and rights holders under one roof. Over the course of two days, speakers and participants—including federal agency representatives, state and local policymakers, nonprofit and corporate leaders, and members of Congress—took part in discussions to help inform how we, as a country, can advance policies and collective action toward a shared outcome of ending plastic pollution in the U.S.

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  • Date: 14 June 2023

Plastic is everywhere in our daily lives—it keeps our food fresh, it makes our packages more efficient to ship, and it’s in the personal protection equipment (PPE) that helped save lives during the global pandemic. However, despite the reliance our world has on plastic, one thing is for certain—the waste it creates is taking over our planet. It pollutes our air, our soil, and is even threatening our water, with an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic entering our ocean every year.

By examining how we source, design, dispose, and reuse plastic materials we can create a circular system that values truly necessary products and packaging, reimagines how plastic can be reused, and incentivizes recycling programs.

And in South Korea, this is exactly what WWF and The Coca-Cola Company are working to do.

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  • Date: 02 June 2023
  • Author: By Erin Simon, Vice President for Plastic Waste & Business, World Wildlife Fund

Rushing from events to meetings and back again, I almost forgot to look around and take in the beauty of Paris. The historic landmarks, the stunning architecture, and the river that winds through the city are normally showstoppers, but this week my mind was squarely focused on one thing – plastic pollution – something that is deteriorating the beauty and health of our cities, rivers and coastal communities around the world.

This past week, world leaders gathered in Paris with one mission – to make progress toward securing a UN Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution. The calls from civil society, business, scientific and youth voices all rallying for an ambitious and effective treaty could be heard loud and clear. From briefing events to art installations, the ‘city of light’ illuminated with passion for solving the global plastic crisis, as pressure was applied on UN Member States to get the job done at INC-2. But did they?

Frustration set in early, as a small number of governments caused a nearly two-day delay in negotiations by challenging provisionally agreed to – but not yet adopted – rules of procedure. This slowdown, while an anticipated tactic, threatened the process and reduced the amount of time negotiators could spend discussing the substantive aspects of the treaty. By mid-week a temporary resolution was in place to move the talks forward.

As the discussions advanced beyond procedural matters, a clear picture emerged that tangible progress could be made during INC-2. By the close of the negotiations, a majority of governments were aligned with WWF’s vision for what a successful treaty should look like and were calling for comprehensive binding rules across the full lifecycle of plastic and for global bans on high-risk and unnecessary plastic materials, like the single-use products that far too often end up in our environment with devastating effects. Importantly, a mandate was also issued for governments to deliver a “zero draft” – essentially a working outline of the treaty, ahead of INC-3 – which is set to take place in Nairobi, Kenya in November.

  • INC2

    High Ambition Briefing - Paris

    Erin Simon Vice President of Plastic Waste and Business, WWF speaks at the High Ambition Briefing ahead of INC-2

  • INC2 Norway

    High Ambition Briefing - Paris

    Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Climate and the Environment, Norway; Co-Chair, High Ambition Coalition speaks at the High Ambition Briefing ahead of INC-2

  • INC2 Rawanda

    High Ambition Briefing - Paris

    Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment, Rwanda; Co-Chair, High Ambition Coalition speaks at the High Ambition Briefing ahead of INC-2

  • Civil Society INC2

    High Ambition Briefing - Paris

    Dr. Jenna Jambeck, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Georgia, Dr. Shahriar Hossain, Environment and Social Development Organization, and Betty Osei Bonsu, Country Manager, Green Africa Youth Organization speak at the High Ambition Briefing ahead of INC-2

  • Inger INC2

    High Ambition Briefing - Paris

    Inger Andersen Under-Secretary-General, United Nations; Executive Director, UN Environment Programme  speaks at the High Ambition Briefing ahead of INC-2

  • Business INC2

    High Ambition Briefing - Paris

    Members of the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty, Rebecca Marmot, Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever, Leanne Geale, Executive Vice President, Nestlé, and Michael Goltzman, Vice President, Global Policy & Sustainability, The Coca-Cola Company speak at the High Ambition Briefing ahead of INC-2

  • Marco INC2

    High Ambition Briefing - Paris

    Marco Lambertini Special Envoy and Former Director General, WWF speaks at the High Ambition Briefing ahead of INC-2

  • room INC2

    High Ambition Briefing - Paris

    Full room to hear a lineup of multistakeholder speakers at the High Ambition Briefing ahead of INC-2

Looking ahead to the next round of negotiations, the global community and players across the plastics value chain must continue to come together and call for increased ambition if we’re going to end up with a treaty that will truly help solve this crisis.

The treaty process must move us toward a circular economy for plastic, and businesses are uniquely positioned to make this transition easier for countries by helping to deliver the solutions needed to get there. Leading companies from the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty understand this, and have been visible and vocal throughout the negotiations, using their outsized voice for good. The coalition supports a treaty that includes regulations on reduction, circulation and prevention alongside remediation, all key factors in a holistic approach to ending plastic pollution.

The voice of the public is equally important. Accounting for 5% of the world’s population, as a nation, the US generates three times more waste than the global average. Our country is part of the problem, but we must also be part of the solution. With 77% of Americans agreeing that too many products are made of plastic and that the waste it creates is a problem, our leaders have an obligation to secure a legally binding treaty that will eliminate production of harmful plastics, deliver a circular approach for the plastic that remains, and ensure that no plastic ends up in nature.

From start to finish, INC-2 was a rollercoaster with twists and turns and highs and lows but in the end, the progress needed was achieved to move the treaty forward. As I reflect on the week and as we look ahead to INC-3 and beyond, it will be useful for me, but also for governments, businesses and individuals to stop and think about the beauty they will miss in this world if these negotiations fail. This process holds the key to shaping a future free of plastic pollution. There is momentum, there will be more challenges, but together, we can turn off the tap of plastic waste and deliver a treaty that ensures a healthier future for people and the planet.

  • Date: 25 May 2023
  • Author: Jess Zeuner, Program Specialist, Plastic & Material Science, WWF

In the minds of many consumers, the products we buy 'begin’ when they hit our store shelves.

Of course, we know they came from somewhere – but not often do we stop and consider the full life cycle of a product, the origin of the materials that make it up, or the environmental footprint that began long ago, the moment those materials were sourced.

As we strive for a future economy no longer dependent on fossil fuel, we have the opportunity to reduce the carbon intensity of materials we use every day. From packaging, to textiles, to the automotive industry – the benefits of replacing fossil carbon with renewable carbon derived from plants could extend to a wide range of industrial and consumer goods applications. The potential climate benefits of the bioeconomy are immense – however, transitioning to plant-based production relies heavily on agricultural and forestry industries, both of which can have serious social and environmental impacts.

Careful decision-making and responsible sourcing are essential for the production and management of biobased materials, especially considering the increasingly important issues of food security, land competition, water, climate change, biodiversity loss, and safe labor practices.

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  • Date: 16 May 2023
  • Author: Alix Grabowski, Director, Plastic and Material Science, WWF

Plastic made from plants (also known as bioplastic or bio-based plastic) holds the potential to be more sustainable and better for the planet. But not all plant-based plastic is created equal. The type of feedstock (biological material used to make the plastic) matters, as does where and how it is produced and harvested. If these factors are not carefully considered, there may be unintended negative consequences for nature and people.

To ensure plant-based plastic is designed to build environmental, social, and economic resilience across ecosystems and communities, WWF convened the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA). BFA brings a science-based perspective to the sourcing of plant-based plastics and their role in circular systems, ensuring that any shift to plant-based inputs brings lasting value to nature and people.

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  • Date: 07 December 2022

The future of the plastic waste crisis will be determined by the actions the world takes today to address it. Some of the world’s largest brands—and users of single-use plastic—have gotten started, by setting time-bound commitments to reduce their plastic waste footprints. If met, many of these targets can help prevent upwards of 50M metric tons of plastic waste by 2030*.

It's crucial, for both people and the planet, that these companies succeed. WWF launched ReSource: Plastic in 2019 with the purpose of closing the “how” gap for success, equipping companies with the latest data and insights they need to take actions that maximize the potential for impact. Through an innovative measurement framework, ReSource helps companies translate their ambitious commitments into meaningful, measurable progress on plastic waste reduction.

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  • Date: 17 November 2022
  • Author: Erin Simon

Take a moment and look around. How many single-use plastic items can you spot?

No matter where you are, single-use plastic isn’t far behind – whether it’s a shopping bag, food packaging or even a bottle of medication. And more likely than not, many of these items will end up contributing to the 11 million tons of plastic pollution that enter our oceans every year.

Consumption of single-use plastic has exploded in recent years, creating a global crisis that impacts nature, people, and the climate. To reduce this stress, we need to start by reducing how many resources we take from the planet– and just as importantly, start valuing the resources we already have in circulation. That’s where reuse systems come in.

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  • Date: 15 November 2022

On America Recycles Day 2020, the United States announced a target recycling rate of 50% by 2030. It’s an impressive goal, and there’s a lot of work to be done to get there. Just two years into that goal, not enough progress has been made. With about 22,000 municipalities managing their own recycling systems, we need national ambition and consistent action to change the way we recycle.

That’s why OneSource Coalition is putting Extended Producer Responsibility—also known as EPR—at the forefront of today's America Recycles Day 2022.

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  • Date: 13 September 2022

WWF’s multi-stakeholder forum, Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA), works to help advance the responsible development of plant-based, or “biobased” plastics. In this interview series, we hear how members of the BFA are practically applying responsibly sourced biobased plastic as a strategy for circularity.

The LEGO Group’s Maria Rosenberger Petersen, Senior Environmental Sustainability Specialist, shares how and why her company is incorporating biobased plastic into their materials strategy.

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