Companies with household names are helping to lead the charge. Because they rely on their reputations, Bonini says, they’ve already got skin in the game: “One company executive said to us, ‘I don’t want to be the producer of branded garbage.’”
Companies have control over how they package products, how raw materials for plastic are sourced, and how products are packaged for delivery—and they can even shift consumer behavior. But today, companies aren’t equipped with a road map of how to fix the broken system. WWF has created an “activation hub,” called ReSource: Plastic, to close that “how” gap.
ReSource helps companies who have already made ambitious plastic waste reduction commitments turn their aspirations into meaningful, measurable actions. It starts by partnering with a company to identify which changes will make the biggest cuts in the company’s plastics footprint and to establish a tracking system to measure progress. Next, it helps the company implement those changes, providing expert advice along with a suite of tools and step-by-step guidance (including the publication No Plastic in Nature: A Practical Guide for Business Engagement). And because nothing multiplies impact like collaboration, ReSource: Plastic connects companies, stakeholders, and governments so they can share discoveries and investments.
This approach includes developing new technologies to recycle materials we never thought could be recycled, like diapers. Through strategic and innovative collaborations, some companies are also actively engaging other sectors, including waste management. For example Procter & Gamble is forming partnerships to advance the infrastructure needed to recycle a full range of materials, with hopes of accelerating further investment in scalable technologies.
Jack McAneny, director of sustainability at P&G, says the power of cross-value chain collaboration is key. “We want to share new technology around recycling and recovery, since we are not a recycler at heart,” he says. “We benefit from more scale; it helps us achieve our vision.”
Scale is definitely key. One company’s efforts are great, but 100 of the world’s biggest companies together could prevent roughly 10 million metric tons of plastic waste. And if they fully engaged their sectors and supply chains, that number could triple.