On the evening of June 5, an advanced copy of the Executive Summary of Valuing Plastic: The Business Case for Measuring, Managing and Disclosing Plastic Use in the Consumer Goods Industry will be shared with the Sustainable Brands community during SB’14 San Diego. The report, a joint effort from the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP) and Trucost (which SB voted one of the "hot couples" to watch in sustainability this year) in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), articulates the business case for companies to measure, manage and disclose information on their annual use and disposal of plastic.
This report uses natural capital valuation to identify ‘hotspots’ of pollution or resource use in the consumer goods industry. PDP says it can be used by companies to target efforts to optimize plastic use and reduce end-of-life impacts. Measuring, managing and disclosing plastic use allows businesses to more accurately weigh their impacts on the environment and improve their sustainable business practices.
One of the most important insights revealed by natural capital valuation, the method employed within this study, is the ‘value at risk’ in consumer goods companies. This is the proportion of revenue potentially lost if companies are held accountable for the damage caused by plastic use and disposal. According to this research, sectors such as retail and food have the highest supply chain plastic intensity, while soft drinks and personal products have the highest plastic-in-packaging intensity. The toys and athletic goods sectors have some of the highest overall values at risk, yet have low rates of disclosure, suggesting a risk that stakeholders’ concerns are not being fully addressed.
In order to quantify the natural capital costs of businesses’ plastic impacts, the methodology of the report follows six steps: sector selection, plastic use quantification, scope and boundary selection, impact quantification, and natural capital valuation and application. The analysis identifies a range of risks and opportunities facing companies that are intensive users of plastic. Risks include the impact of tougher environmental legislation, damage done to the reputation of brands targeted by campaigners over their association with plastic litter, clean-up costs and disruption to the plastic supply chain caused by resource scarcity and price volatility (see this SB ’10 talk from PDP’s Doug Woodring, also co-founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance). Opportunities include cost reduction, product innovation, securing customer loyalty, and better predicting disruptive influences.
A webinar for the 100 companies mentioned in this report will take place on June 19 in advance of the full report release. Sustainable Brands will hold a public webinar detailing the findings on July 9. These webinars will discuss the report in depth and feature companies such as LUSH Cosmetics sharing their experience.
International media will have access to the Executive Summary through the “Our Ocean” Conference hosted in Washington by Secretary of State John Kerry on June 16-17, at the Plasticity Forum in NYC on June 24, and the full report will be released in association with the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi from June 23-27.
To receive an embargoed copy of the Valuing Plastics Executive Summary, please email [email protected].