The VBDO calls on all its members and other institutional investors to sign our investor statement on the use of plastic by companies.
The entire current plastic lifecycle poses a growing threat to the environment, climate, biodiversity, human rights and public health: Investors run serious and increasing risks when investing in companies that use or even depend on plastic.
The statement is aimed at companies that make intensive use of plastic packaging. We call for clear and urgent steps to be taken. For example, companies should commit to reducing the use of plastic, support ambitious policies (including the Global Plastics Treaty) and address and identify the use of harmful chemicals in products and packaging.
The statement was prepared by a group of 11 institutional investors, representing more than US$ 5 trillion AuM.
The VBDO investor statement plastic
The VBDO (Association of Investors for Sustainable Development) coordinates the process with the support of ClientEarth (acting in an advisory role – ClientEarth itself will not sign the statement).
We are calling on our members and other institutional investors to sign the statement between now and Friday, April 14. The statement will be widely published on various channels in the week of April 17 and shared with national and international media.
The statement sets out the following expectations of companies:
- Publicly support – and do not lobby against – ambitious policy, including the Global Plastics Treaty and the European Commission’s proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, which contains a much-needed focus on prevention and reuse.
- Commit to – and start delivering – an absolute reduction of single-use plastic packaging, including through implementing re-use systems.
- Address the use of hazardous chemicals in value chains – obstacles to improving circularity – by committing to identifying and eliminating the use of hazardous substances in products and packaging and publicly reporting progress in doing so.
Scope of the plastics problem
The whole plastics lifecycle poses a serious and growing threat to the environment, climate, biodiversity, human rights and public health:
- Up to 199 million tonnes of plastics have accumulated in our oceans. The OECD estimates we added a further 19 million tonnes in 2019 alone.
- The FAO estimates that soils are likely to be more polluted with microplastics than the oceans.
- Lifecycle emissions from single-use plastics in 2021 were equivalent to the total emissions of the UK.
- More than 10,000 chemicals are used to make plastics, with almost a quarter having been identified as potentially hazardous to human health.
- It is estimated that the costs to society from plastic pollution – including environmental clean-up, ecosystem degradation, shorter life expectancy and medical treatment exceed US$ 100 billion per year.
Yet plastic production – including the production of single-use plastics continues to grow.
Existing corporate targets are not ambitious enough and companies are not on track to meet them
Yet amongst the biggest corporate users of plastics – notably in the FMCG and grocery retail sector – the use of virgin plastics continues to grow. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s latest progress report, signatories to the EMF’s Global Commitment are not on track to meet existing engagements and have made limited progress on reduction and implementing reuse.
Financial risks to companies and investors
Per ton of plastic produced, the external costs are estimated at US$ 1000. The actions and developments of policymakers in addressing the plastic problem are becoming more numerous, together with a society that demands more responsibility from companies. This means that institutional parties investing in companies within the plastics value chain are increasingly exposed to significant and increasing risks.
More information and participation
Do you have any questions, would you like to receive more information or sign the statement? Please contact Freek van Til project manager, VBDO (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Signatories to the statement will be contacted for further opportunities for coordination and information sharing on this topic, following the release of the statement.