LONDON — Many food and beverage companies are unlikely to meet their goals around making their plastic packaging more sustainable by 2025, according to a report tracking progress on the New Plastic Economy Global Commitment.
Launched in 2018 by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) and the United Nations Environment Programme, the New Plastic Economy Global Commitment aims to create a circular economy for plastic, in which it never becomes waste or pollution. More than 500 organizations signed the pledge to reduce their use of virgin plastic and achieve 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.
The progress report found an overall increase in virgin plastic back to 2018 levels across all industries.
Several of the world’s largest food and beverage makers are using more plastic packaging than when they first signed the commitment. The Coca-Cola Co. upped its use of virgin plastic packaging by 3% in 2021 versus 2019, according to the 2022 progress report. PepsiCo, Inc. increased its use by 5% while Mars, Inc. increased its use by 11%. The largest increases came from McCormick & Co., Inc. (22%), Ferrara (32%) and Mondelez International, Inc. (44%).
Unilever saw the largest reduction, decreasing its use of virgin plastic by 18% in 2021 versus 2019 levels. Keurig Dr Pepper reduced its use by 4%, while Danone and Nestle both reduced their use of virgin plastic by approximately 8%.
The EMF found companies including Mars, Kellogg Co. and McCain Foods used less reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging when compared to the 2021 progress report. Danone and Keurig Dr Pepper increased their use of such packaging by seven and eight percentage points, respectively.
“The latest findings demonstrate the need to urgently ramp up efforts,” said Sander Defruyt, the EMF’s plastic initiative lead. “Credible, ambitious plans are needed from businesses to scale reuse, to deal with the issue of flexible packaging and to reduce the need for single-use packaging.”