Plastic Leak Project publishes first standardized guidelines to measure plastic pollution in corporate value chains

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On 27 February 2020, Quantis and EA in partnership with 35 public, private, and scientific organizations, released a methodology for “plastic leakage assessment” under its Plastic Leak Project. This is the first standardized methodological guideline  for businesses to map and measure plastic leakage. The guidelines lay a strong foundation for companies to eliminate plastic pollution and minimize business risks across the value chain.

Developed through a year-long worldwide collaboration, this methodology fills a critical gap in science-driven solutions to the global plastics crisis. The guidelines are developed as part of the Marine Plastics and Coastal Communities (MARPLASTICCs) Initiative implemented by IUCN in five countries, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida).

It is estimated that out of 8300 million metric tons of virgin plastic produced between 1950–2015, only 7% has been recycled, while more than half — approximately 4900 million metric tons — has ended up in landfill or leaked into the environment.

“Plastic pollution is a hot-button issue for businesses across sectors, so companies have made bold commitments to address their plastic leakage. To ensure their efforts are focused on areas of greatest impact, they need data-driven solutions. That’s what the PLP guidelines provide: clear metrics and guidance to map, measure and forecast plastic leakage in their own industry and supply chains.” said Laura Peano, Senior Sustainability Consultant and Plastic Leak Project Lead, Quantis.

Launched in 2019 by Quantis and EA, Plastic Leak Project aims to develop smart metrics and impactful corporate strategies for businesses to tackle plastic pollution. The project brings together stakeholders from across the plastic value chain. The multi-stakeholder initiative represents a diversity in expertise and industries. Member organizations of the project are Adidas, Arla Foods, Braskem, CITEO, Cotton Incorporated, Cyclos, Decathlon, The DOW Chemical Company, Eastman, Enel X, European Bioplastics Association, European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association, International Wool Textile Organization, Mars Incorporated, McDonald’s Corporation, PlasticsEurope, Radici Group, Sympatex Technologies, and The Woolmark Company.

The project’s strategic committee comprises of International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Life Cycle Initiative, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The advisory board includes experts from CIRAIG, European Commission Joint Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and WWF.

With the lack of clear and reliable methods and data to translate bold commitments of businesses into actions with meaningful impact, the Plastic Leak Project guidelines targets to create business value by uncovering opportunities for product and supply chain management innovation. Also, strengthening brand reputation by demonstrating leadership in tackling plastic leakage.

The Plastic Leak Project guideline provides companies a standardized method for calculating and reporting estimates of plastic and micro-plastic leakage at all stages of value chain. With a plastic leakage assessment, companies can locate hotspots, understand how much leakage is occurring and identify the main drivers of plastic pollution in their value chains. The results can be used by corporate decision-makers, sustainability managers, product and packaging designers, R&D and marketing teams to define priorities, guide eco-design efforts, track progress and communicate credibly about the environmental performance of products and the business as a whole.

Quantis will be hosting a public webcast with members of the Plastic Leak Project to raise awareness on the PLP guidelines and highlight how sustainability managers can leverage this new resource to drive effective plastic pollution strategies. The announcement for the webcast will be soon updated in the IUCN Plastics webpage.

About MARPLASTICCS

Plastic pollution has become a global problem threatening our environment, health and economies. If we do not act now, the problem will only get worse. Through the Marine Plastics and Coastal Communities (MARPLASTICCs) project, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), IUCN is working closely with governments, industries and society in Africa and Asia to reduce and control plastic pollution.