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Waste Not
WWF Report Reveals Progress on Some of the World’s Biggest Brands' Plastic Footprints

While ReSource: Plastic members are demonstrating that plastic reporting is possible, voluntary corporate action is not sufficient to address the scale and urgency of the plastic waste crisis.

World Wildlife Fund’s ReSource: Plastic program has released its fourth annual public report — Transparent 2023 — revealing how some of the world’s largest brands are tracking, measuring and reporting on their respective plastic footprints.

The data reveals insights and in-depth recommendations on tackling plastic waste within internal, corporate supply chains and across wider, multi-stakeholder efforts. The elimination of unnecessary and single-use plastics continues to be the most important action that companies can take to directly address the plastic pollution crisis through their own portfolios.

Transparent 2023 examines the plastic footprints of ReSource members Amcor, The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive, CVS Health, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Keurig Dr Pepper, McDonald’s Corporation, Procter & Gamble and Starbucks. The report captures each company’s plastic by polymer type and form; their use of recycled content and sustainably sourced, biobased content; and the likely waste-management pathways for the aggregate portfolio. The comprehensive report includes progress made by each ReSource member from 2021 to 2022 and compares year-over-year results for legacy Members.

“All companies should be reporting on their plastic footprint — something we are advocating for in the UN Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution,” said Erin Simon, VP of plastic waste + business at WWF. “ReSource member companies are ahead of the curve — demonstrating that plastic reporting is not an onerous or impossible task. Their transparency enables lessons to be learned and actions to be taken that will reverberate across supply chains and industries worldwide.”

For the first time, ReSource is collecting comprehensive data from its members on reuse efforts with the hope of sharing learnings on the best ways to eliminate plastic waste. WWF sees reuse systems emerging as a key strategy, with all nine members exploring reuse in some capacity. This year’s Transparent report also measured progress and captured invaluable insights across four areas: eliminating unnecessary plastic, doubling global recycling and composting, shifting to sustainable inputs for remaining plastic, and improving data harmonization.

2023 key findings include:

  • Five ReSource members saw an overall reduction in their virgin fossil-based plastic tonnage from 2021 to 2022.

  • Of the nine members, four have reduced and five have increased their absolute tonnage of plastic since their baseline.

  • Despite progress in some areas, the total weight of plastic in the aggregate portfolio increased by 0.8 percent to 7.26 million metric tons in 2022 from 7.20 million metric tons in 2021.

  • Overall, ReSource members have made progress to reduce problematic plastics. In 2022, these products made up 1.2 percent of Member portfolios, which is less than half of the 3.2 percent in the 2018 baseline year.

  • Among ReSource members, the use of recycled content has increased to 12 percent in 2022 from 10.2 percent in 2021.

  • The share of packaging that is recyclable has increased to 72.5 percent in 2022 from 70.4 percent in 2021.

“At Starbucks, our environmental promise to give back more than we take from the planet underpins our efforts to cut our waste, water and carbon footprints in half by 2030,” said Starbucks chief sustainability officer Michael Kobori. “To further our waste reduction, we’ve continued our shift toward reusables — with 20 reusable-cup tests in markets around the world; as well as single-use packaging solutions — like our FSC-certified single-use cup made with 30 percent recycled material and 25 percent less plastic in the liner and our transition to 100 percent rPET Ethos water bottles in US and Canada. As we look to the future to meet our ambitious goals, programs like ReSource are key for collaboration across sectors to drive meaningful progress.”

WWF recently joined the Steering Committee of CDP’s Scaling Plastics Disclosure initiative to inform and support the expansion of CDP’s plastic questionnaire. As the questionnaire becomes increasingly robust and comprehensive, WWF’s intent is for it to replace the mandatory annual reporting for ReSource members that currently occurs through the ReSource Footprint Tracker. As part of the Scaling Plastics Disclosure initiative and ReSource: Plastic, the Footprint Tracker serves as a tool for companies wishing to understand not only the amount and the kinds of plastics they are releasing into the market, but also the waste and leakage being generated as a result. It also provides a common framework for companies to report on their plastic impact.

Understanding the scope of the problem through plastic reporting is the first step to addressing plastic pollution. ReSource members are demonstrating that plastic reporting is possible. However, voluntary corporate action is not sufficient to address the scale and urgency of the plastic waste crisis. National and international policy action, through a legally binding Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution and Extended Producer Responsibility legislation, are critical to ensuring a future free of plastic waste. Six out of nine members are actively engaged in the Global Treaty process.

To view the full report, click here. To view the executive summary, click here.