Amcor inspires action to address plastics in the ocean

Over the past 20 years, plastic packaging has transformed the way consumer products are made, protected, stored, distributed and consumed.

23 November, 2017
Plastic packaging has cut food waste, improved safety and human health, and reduced the environmental footprint of transportation for product delivery.  
 
The same qualities that make plastics such a great packaging material - low cost, light weight, strength and resilience – can create vexing problems when plastics enter the environment.

Most marine plastic originates from countries where consumer economies developed faster than their ability to manage waste. More than half comes from just five countries in Asia, according to research by the Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.  

Amcor has global packaging expertise and demonstrated leadership in addressing this issue.  To get an accurate current picture of collection and recycling in Asia, we commissioned the report “Toward Circularity of Post-consumer Flexible Packaging in Asia”.  The report, which was introduced today at the Responsible Business Forum in Singapore, surveys what is being done today in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and proposes how Amcor and others can further increase efforts to recover and recycle flexible plastic packaging.


Report findings and recommendations:
  • Segregation of waste at source is critical to retrieval of post-consumer flexible packaging and should be supported by regulation, behaviour change campaigns and enforcement via refusal of waste collection services and fines.
  • Material recovery facilities - facilities that can collect and sort dry waste into different recyclable streams - are most effective when operations are subsidised by the income generated from high value recyclables and when incentives exist for the retrieval and processing of flexible packaging waste.
  • End uses for flexible packaging must be financially viable; that is, able to generate sufficient and consistent economic value to create a market for post-consumer flexible packaging.

Even as improvements in  design and innovation in material types are being actively researched and developed, greater intervention is needed to address growing post-consumer flexible packaging waste in Asia. Any effort must include a multi-stakeholder approach (and local government participation is key), embrace source segregation, support material recovery facilities and, ensure a financially viable end solution.
 
The report is a snapshot based the best information available in a rapidly changing area.  We asked for frank conclusions and recommendations, and some may not be widely accepted.  We encourage you to read it in the positive spirit in which it was requested and written.

Enhanced sustainability is one outcome of our innovation, from developing packaging that is more easily recycled to using more recycled plastics in Amcor’s products. Bringing customers, suppliers, government agencies and NGOs together to create permanent, scalable recycling systems and improve recycling rates will be vital to breakthroughs that keep plastics in use and out of the environment.

We welcome your response to the report by email to reports@goneadventurin.com. 

Find out more about Amcor’s sustainability leadership in our Sustainability Review 2017

 

2017-11-20-Flexibles-Report (.pdf, 2.66MB)

CONTRIBUTOR
David Clark
Vice President Safety Environment & Sustainability
Amcor