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The number of international initiatives to fight plastic pollution has more than doubled in the last five years. With public awareness of plastic pollution growing, so has the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business-led organizations and industry coalitions aiming to tackle the problem. This includes, for instance, NGO-coalitions like Break Free From Plastic, as well as voluntary initiatives such as the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and WWF’s ReSource: Plastics. Launched in October 2018 by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment marked a turning point in multi-stakeholder engagement. With over 500 signatories to date, it unites businesses and other stakeholders behind a common vision of a circular economy, defining concrete 2025 targets to address plastic pollution. In addition to bringing together many of the world’s leading companies around a shared set of targets, the Global Commitment has helped to find alignment on common reporting standards and definitions, which are gradually becoming the industry norm.

A circular economy is a regenerative system, functioning within planetary boundaries and driven by renewable energy, that replaces the current linear take-make-dispose industrial model. Materials are instead maintained in the economy and resources are shared, while waste and negative impacts are designed out.

The media is taking note. Today, almost all of the top 50 FMCG companies are undertaking plastic packaging initiatives,21 in many cases in partnership with leading NGOs around the world. These initiatives include everything from the launch of fully recyclable products to investments in recycling infrastructure. Awareness of these efforts is also growing: the number of news and media articles covering plastic sustainability initiatives has increased eightfold in the past four years(22).