a new wave of multinationals is mobilizing

Faced with the worsening of the phenomenon of marine pollution and the pressure of public opinion, the multinationals of the planet, which produce a lot of plastic waste, finally roll up their sleeves. After Danone, H & M, L'Oreal, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, which at the end of October joined a "global commitment of the new plastic economy" promoted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UN Environment, it is now the turn of BASF, Total, ExxonMobil, Dow, Mitsui Chemicals, LyondellBasell, Procter & Gamble, Chevron and Shell to mobilize, with twenty other international companies located around the world.

On Wednesday 16 January, these petrochemical and consumer goods giants announced the creation of an alliance to find plastic waste disposal solutions, hand in hand with recyclers such as Veolia and Suez. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is one of the founding strategic partners.

Partnerships with major cities

The funds mobilized by the "Alliance to end plastic waste" (AEPW) (a billion dollars initially and up to 1.5 billion in five years) must serve especially four types of essential interventions, sometimes through support for programs already underway: the development of waste treatment infrastructures, innovation in recycling, education and cleaning of already highly polluted places. The press release cites, among other things, the goal of forming partnerships with major cities, especially those without infrastructure, located along rivers and streams. "in areas where used plastics are plentiful", to improve their waste management, in order to "to create reproducible, economically viable models".

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The vast majority of plastic waste found in the oceans comes from land, particularly via the rivers of Southeast Asia and Africa. Other objectives are mentioned in the press release: "create a pipeline of investment projects", "develop an open scientific information project with academic institutions ", building capacity for collaboration with intergovernmental organizations ". The alliance also plans to support the NGO Renew Oceans, which tries to recover plastic waste in the ten largest polluted rivers, eight of which are in Asia.

Nothing about eco-design

"This is a complex and serious global challenge that requires rapid action and strong leadership.This new alliance is the largest initiative to date to stop plastic waste in the environment," says the press release David Taylor, CEO of Procter and Gamble and president of the Alliance, inviting other companies to join him.

"History has shown that collective action and partnerships between industry, governments and NGOs can bring innovative solutions to a global challenge like this," adds Bob Patel, President and CEO of LyondellBasell and Vice President of AEPW.

Unlike the "global commitment of the new plastic economy", which pursues a real circular economy approach including the marketing of 100% recyclable plastic, compostable, or reusable, or even the"elimination of problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging", however, this alliance does not provide anything for eco-design.

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However, it is on this ground that the traditional model of the packaging industry is today increasingly challenged not only by consumers, but also by governments, which multiply prohibitions on objects. disposable, as well as by investors. And while the commitment promoted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UN Environment provides updated goals every 18 months, nothing is mentioned by the alliance announced today.

KFC and McDonald's promise to ban straws

In France, two other multinationals largely responsible for the production of plastic waste, have also recently felt obliged to strengthen their commitments. KFC has announced the removal of plastic straws in all of its 250 French restaurants.

They will be replaced by paper straws, which will be available only on request. KFC - which promises to implement the measure in January in four restaurants in Paris, and in the first quarter of 2019 in the others - anticipates the entry into force of the law for the balance of commercial relations in the agricultural sector and healthy, sustainable and accessible to all ("Egalim law"), where their ban is planned as early as 2020.

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As part of its strategy to reduce greenhouse gases by 2030, McDonald's France also said in December, want to eliminate in 2019 the distribution of straws and plastic lids which, together, weigh more 400 tons annually. They would be substituted by "better alternatives from an environmental point of view". This approach should then be pursued "for all other plastic utensils (bowls for ice cream and salads ...) ". McDonald's promises furthermore "to deploy the implementation of selective sorting in the dining room in all restaurants" within three years.

The commitment of these two fast food brands is also following pressure from public opinion. In October 2018, the association Zero Waste France announced that it was filing a lawsuit against two Parisian restaurants, one owned by KFC and the other at McDonald's. During a long investigation, she documented the absence of indoor sorting bins, while all companies are required since 2016 to sort their waste paper and plastic. The program "Special Envoy" has also documented the absence of sorting bins in a Parisian McDonald's restaurant.