ReSource isn’t another commitment or a new partnership; to join, companies have to publicly share data and progress on their plastic-reduction efforts — giving us the first real understanding of whether industry-wide progress is being made on tackling plastic pollution.
Today, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched ReSource: Plastics, a new activation hub that will help companies translate their ambitious plastic commitments into measurable action. Several major corporations are already on board as principal members, including Coca-Cola, Keurig Dr Pepper, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks and Tetra Pak, which together represent a significant portion of global consumer plastic usage.
“Plastic as we know it takes collaboration to find scalable, truly impactful solutions,” John Kelly, SVP of Global Public Affairs and Social Impact at Starbucks, said in a statement. “We’re committed to learning and leading alongside other brands as we work toward our aspiration of sustainable coffee, served sustainably.”
While plastic pollution has garnered significant attention recently — and for good reason, as the science of plastic waste is alarming, both for the environment and human health — we’re still far from solving the problem. What gives many hope is how, particularly over the past year, we’ve seen remarkable alignment on the urgency of this problem, with broad partnerships being formed such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which includes dozens of companies representing 20 percent of all global plastic packaging production; along with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, the Plastic Leak Project and NextWave Plastics, whose member companies are developing a supply chain for ocean-bound plastics.
ReSource isn’t another commitment or a new partnership, and this is by design. Those already exist, but what WWF saw as necessary was a platform to help companies achieve their goals. ReSource aims to be something different than existing commitments — a hub for creating and measuring action.
While NextWave Plastics aims to divert a minimum of 25,000 tonnes of plastics — the equivalent to 1.2 billion single-use plastic water bottles — from entering the ocean by the end of the year 2025, none of the other big, multistakeholder commitments have concrete goals or timelines, so a mechanism to track actual progress being made on the plastic front is badly needed.
“Today, companies have a lot of big commitments, but they don’t yet have a clear roadmap or a common vision for how to fix the whole system,” Erin Simon, Director of Sustainability research and development at WWF, told Sustainable Brands. “ReSource seeks to turn the aspirations into meaningful and measurable actions.”
ReSource will connect companies with other key stakeholders also seeking to solve the plastic pollution problem, and allow them to collaborate. It also aims to be a knowledge hub for creating action plans and science-driven, scalable solutions. For companies that want to make good on commitments, the value of ReSource is clear.
“ReSource will bring a systems approach in partnership with many stakeholders — common metrics, best practices, accountability — that is much needed to accelerate progress on long-term solutions,” Virginie Helias, VP and Chief Sustainability Officer at Procter & Gamble, said in a press statement.
Accountability will also be a key part of ReSource. As part of the requirement to join, companies have to share data and give progress reports on their plastic-reduction efforts — allowing for independent observers to see what is working, and what’s not. All of that will be shared with the public, giving us the first real understanding of whether or not industry-wide progress is being made on tackling plastic pollution.
“Part of the requirement for being in ReSource is that you are willing to have public, measurable, time-bound goals and that you’re willing to report on progress year over year,” Simon says.
The idea is that, through transparency, greater sharing of information and collaboration, ReSource can provide companies with tools to meet their existing plastic commitments — and help the world, together, solve the plastic pollution crisis.
“Hopefully, ReSource will create the lens and that common language where that story can be told in a holistic way, so that we can see how we are shifting a system and making meaningful change,” Simon said.
There will likely be challenges along the way, as solving a problem this big will take time and the need to learn from failure. For ReSource, the idea is that by creating a space for companies to share ideas, learn from each other and collaborate, we can ensure that the mountain of commitments lead to real change for our planet and future generations.