Companies which account for a fifth of the world’s plastic packaging are among organisations which have signed up to global efforts to tackle plastic waste, it has been announced.
Mars, L’Oreal, Unilever and Coca Cola, producers such as Novamont and waste management firm Veolia are among more than 250 organisations which have joined up to the global commitment to end plastic waste at source.
Targets under the commitment include eliminating problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and making the shift away from single-use items.
There will also be a focus on innovation to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused, recycled or composted by 2025, and will aim to significantly increase the amount of plastic reused or recycled into new packaging or products.
The global commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UN Environment, and backed by environmental charity WWF, governments including the UK and Scotland, universities, financial institutions and campaign groups.
Targets will be reviewed every 18 months and businesses will publish annual data on their progress to ensure transparency and momentum, organisers said.
It comes amid growing concern over the amount of plastic polluting the world’s oceans, where it can kill or harm wildlife and enter the food chain and be consumed by humans, with as yet unknown impacts on health.
Scientists estimate 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s, with almost all of it made from non-renewable fossil fuels, and about 60% has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.
Without action to curb plastic pollution in the oceans, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.
Dame Ellen MacArthur said: “We know that cleaning up plastics from our beaches and oceans is vital, but this does not stop the tide of plastic entering the oceans each year.
“We need to move upstream to the source of the flow.”
She said the global commitment was “just one step on what will be a challenging journey” but one which could lead to huge benefits for society, the environment and the economy.
And she urged businesses to go further “in a race to the top” to create a system for using plastic where it never becomes waste or pollution.