Published 2 years ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Cristian Palmer/Unsplash
/ This article is sponsored by
Dow aims to not only provide more sustainable products, but to share our expertise to support people and our planet’s wellbeing. For that expertise to
reach its highest potential, it must be backed by international cooperation at every level.
We are entering a period of transformational change in how we make, use and
reuse materials. With material innovations that were unimaginable even a few
decades ago, as well as an incomparable understanding of the planet and scale of
our consumption, we have everything we need to build a circular economy. Yet, we
face a barrier that holds us back from utilizing our full potential to close the
loop: worldwide standardization and alignment on plastics.
A global treaty for plastics emerged as the trending theme in the World
Circular Economy Forum’s panel “Corporate Plastic Stewardship: The Need for
which I was lucky enough to join in September. Sitting down with Sarah
Perreard, Senior Consultant at Quantis; alongside John Duncan, Global
Lead for the No Plastic in Nature
initiative at the World Wildlife Fund; and Jodie Roussell,
Nestlé’s Senior Public Affairs
Manager, we held a small-scale version of the kind of conversation that policy
makers and business leaders need to have at a global scale.
One of the biggest barriers we face in transitioning to a circular economy is
the lack of standardized
for measuring and reporting plastic use and waste across the board, and the fact
that the multitude of individual initiatives lack the scale needed to drive
change across the entire system. For example, the US alone has more than
40,000 recycling programs, creating a sizable barrier for circularity in the
form of inconsistent
Today, even questions as simple as what counts as waste, or what qualifies a
product as truly “recycled,” remain unstandardized across industries, nations
and states. Until we all work within the same framework with the same
understanding of the problem, we can’t solve for closing the loop and stopping
Standardized metrics for measurements are also important to increase
To drive meaningful action on plastics requires an unobstructed view of the
entire system of use, waste and reuse. This kind of reporting shows us where
resources and attention should be given, and makes clear which solutions are
working and which are not. Combined with the flexibility to implement solutions
in ways that are appropriate to the regions where they are being
we can achieve transformational change around the world.
As representatives of two multinational businesses devoted to scaling our
organization’s sustainability efforts, Jodie Roussell and I shared in the
understanding that the industry cannot win this battle alone — we must have
government support and inertia behind us.
While many governments have passed laws and regulations to limit waste and
expand circularity, the lack of standardized language and metrics limits the
global impact of these actions. The proposal of a UN treaty to end plastic
which will likely be introduced at the UN Environment Assembly in February
2022, represents a clear way to address these issues. The proposal is backed by
plastic producers all over the world, which have joined together and laid out a
list of five key
The implementation of a global, standardized framework of this kind will clear
the way for more impactful action, allowing us to continue to maintain quality
of life while eliminating the critical issue of
At Dow, we are wholeheartedly behind this proposal.
Our CEO, Jim Fitterling, joined LyondellBasell CEO Bob Patel in expressing
his support for a UN treaty in a recent Wall Street Journal special event,
“Getting There: A Global Agreement to End Plastic
Waste.” We understand that plastic waste is a
global issue, and therefore requires global solutions. Companies and governments
can no longer limit their focus to in-house or localized solutions but must work
to change the way the entire global system operates.
The need for coordinated international cooperation in the face of crisis has
been made abundantly clear during the
COVID-19 pandemic. In
addition to the health and economic devastation of the pandemic, it has also had
ripple effects on
and waste around the globe as we continue to rely on single-use
and recycling services have been temporarily suspended in many locations.
Dow aims to be a sustainability leader not only by providing more sustainable
products, but also by sharing our expertise to support people and our planet’s
wellbeing. For that expertise and success to reach its highest potential, it
must be backed by international cooperation at every level. A more sustainable,
circular world is the one that will unlock the highest-possible quality of life.
We all have a stake in this fight.
Published Oct 14, 2021 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Over the course of my 32 years at Dow, I’ve been fortunate to combine my love of sustainability and engineering. Today I serve as the Global Sustainability Director for Packaging and Specialty Plastics, and I proudly serve on the board of directors for GreenBlue.
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.
Everyone has a role to play in creating a more sustainable world: Dow is taking action to address the full scale of challenges, collaborating with partners to improve the industry’s processes and through innovation to help communities become more sustainable.