Reuse to Slash Plastic Emissions by Up to 69%

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by KnowESG
KnowESG_Reuse to Slash Plastic Emissions by Up to 69-
Image courtesy of Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation unveiled a study on Wednesday demonstrating that the widespread adoption of plastic packaging return and reuse initiatives could lead to a remarkable 69 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Beyond the environmental benefits, such programmes not only diminish corporate emissions but also have the potential to lower costs for various products. The comprehensive study, which encompassed over 60 organisations, including national governments and major consumer goods companies like Danone, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever, was conducted in collaboration with Systemiq, a UK-based sustainable business firm, and environmental consultancy Eunomia.

As the United Nations struggles with limited progress in establishing the world's first treaty to regulate plastic pollution, the study advocates for a systemic transformation to combat and reverse plastic waste across sectors such as beverages, personal care, fresh food, and food cupboard items.

In its most ambitious scenario, labelled "System Change," the study suggests that reuse initiatives could result in substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (35-69%), water usage (45-70%), and material usage (45-76%). Deposit schemes, the study notes, are pivotal for achieving these targets by encouraging high return rates.

In the envisioned System Change scenario, where consumers would receive €0.20 (US$0.22) upon returning packaging, the net costs for returnable beverage and personal care bottles would significantly undercut those of single-use alternatives.

However, the study highlights the importance of shared collection infrastructures, standardised packaging, and pooling—where multiple entities use shared packaging—to achieve high return rates and make reuse schemes economically competitive.

The onus, the study concludes, is now on policymakers and business leaders in the fast-moving consumer goods sectors to overhaul their practices, as emphasised by Jean-Pierre Schwetizer, the circular economy manager at the European Environmental Bureau.

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Source: Reuters

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