Today we are happy to share with you the results of the Plastic Leak Project, which recently published the first standardized guidelines to measure plastic pollution across corporate value chains. The project was launched in 2019 by Quantis and EA together with 35 member organizations and stakeholders and addressed some of the issues previously highlighted in the Medellin Declaration.

According to recent scientific research, of the estimated 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. Growing awareness around the environmental impact and scale of plastic pollution has made the issue a top priority and risk for businesses in sectors ranging from agri-food to consumer goods and shipping.

The newly developed guidelines by the Plastic Leak Project provide businesses at all stages of the value chain with a robust, standardized method for calculating and reporting estimates of plastic and microplastic leakage at both the corporate and product level. Based on a life cycle assessment approach, the guidelines lay out the sources and pathways of plastic leakage across the globe. With a plastic leakage assessment, companies can locate hotspots, understand how much leakage is occurring and identify the factors contributing to plastic pollution across their value chains.

The results can then be used by corporate decision-makers, sustainability managers, product and packaging designers, R&D and marketing teams to develop plastics strategies, define priorities and targeted actions, improve product ecodesign efforts, identify value chain innovations, track progress and communicate credibly about the environmental performance of products and the business as a whole. All of which can ultimately mitigate business risks and strengthen brand reputation.

The Plastic Leak Project, which was run as a multi-stakeholder project by Quantis and EA, brought together stakeholders from across the plastics value chain, representing a diversity of expertise and industries such as Adidas, Braskem, Mars, the National Geographic Society or PlasticsEurope, to name just a few. The Project’s strategic committee was comprised of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Life Cycle Initiative, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the World Business Council For Sustainable Development, and the advisory board includes, among others, experts from the FSLCI, CIRAIG, European Commission Joint Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and WWF.

To raise awareness on this new methodology for plastic leakage assessment, Quantis is hosting a public webinar on April 2nd with members of the Plastic Leak Project to present the PLP guidelines and highlight how sustainability managers and corporate decision-makers can leverage this new resource to drive effective plastic pollution strategies. You can register here for the webinar: Tackling plastic pollution – introducing science-driven guidelines to address plastic leakage in corporate value chains.

More information on the project is also available on the project website.

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