The New Plastics Economy initiative: Building a brighter future

06 October, 2016

The New Plastics Economy has a strong focus on technological advancement and sustainability to drive economic growth. Here we look at how it aims to usher in an era of innovation and positive change within the plastics industry.

Rethinking the future

In January, The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics was launched at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. It highlighted some disturbing trends within the global plastic packaging value chain.

Among them was a material value loss of $80–$120 billion a year and negative environmental externalities costing at least $40 billion a year. This is an incredible sum – and is greater than the combined annual profits of the entire plastic packaging industry. It is clear something has to change.

Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The New Plastics Economy is an ambitious, three-year initiative working to design a plastics system grounded in circular economy principles. In other words, one that works.

As a company passionate about developing unique, progressive and environmentally friendly packaging solutions, Amcor is excited to be one of the leading companies involved in the initiative.

Together with a broad group of key stakeholders, including cities, philanthropists, policymakers, academics, students, NGOs and citizens, we hope to spark a brighter future for the industry by redesigning the future of plastics, starting with packaging.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said the initiative’s three-year lead time is reflective of how difficult it is to instigate a fundamental, system-wide transformation across the industry.

“[The initiative] seeks to create a shared sense of direction, to spark a new wave of innovation and to move the plastics value chain… into a positive spiral of value capture, stronger economics and better environmental outcomes,” she said.

The building blocks of success

At the heart of the initiative are five interlinked and mutually reinforcing building blocks, ensuring a systemic and collaborative approach throughout the process:

  • Dialogue mechanism - Bringing together leading companies and cities across the global value chain to complete collaborative demonstration projects and inform the other building blocks.
  • Global Plastics Protocol - Rethinking plastic packaging materials, formats and after-use systems and standards to provide an economically and environmentally attractive target.
  • Innovation moon-shots - Mobilising targeted innovation ‘moon-shots’ focused on system-wide solutions with the potential to scale globally.
  • Evidence base - Closing critical knowledge gaps by building an economic and scientific evidence base.
  • Outreach - Engaging a broad set of stakeholders in the design of a better system, including citizens, educators, students, policymakers, NGOs and industry associations.

A joint philanthropic-business advisory board is overseeing the initiative to ensure the inclusion of a wide set of social, environmental and business considerations.

Find out more about Amcor’s commitment to sustainability