ESG Initiatives in the Recycled Plastic Industry
Recycling plastic industry players are focusing on sustainability and connecting brands with environmentally friendly plastic to combat carbon emissions and minimize waste. Amidst the global push to eradicate pollution, packaging has garnered huge headlines. UNEP notes that global plastic production is pegged at 400 million tons per year. Besides, merely 9% of this is recycled and 12% is incinerated. Accordingly, in March 2022, the U.N. member states endorsed a resolution to beat plastic pollution and create an international legally binding agreement by 2024. Sustainable and affordable options for recycled products have gained ground, furthering the need for ESG frameworks globally.
Public policy could be instrumental in overcoming plastic packaging pollution. The ubiquitous nature of plastic has put pressure on regulators and investors to find solutions for pollution across sectors, including retail, manufacturing, industrial, and electronics. According to Greenpeace, supermarkets in the U.K. emit 800,000 tons of plastic packaging per year, while the government is committed to ensuring all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Meanwhile, in May 2022, legislators in New York proposed two bills to enhance plastic recycling rates. It would need producers to eliminate toxic chemicals from packaging, minimize packaging and pay for recycling and disposal costs.
Key Companies in this theme
• REMONDIS SE & Co. KG
• Republic Services, Inc.
• WM Intellectual Property Holdings, LLC
• Shell International BV
• Waste Connections
• Clean Harbors, Inc.
• Covestro AG.
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Veolia Bolsters Environmental Profile to Navigate Growth Potentials
Concerted efforts from manufacturers and suppliers to combat pollution have led to the demand for recycled products and services. The shifting trend toward recycled products is expected to foster the environmental profile. Companies upgrading technologies to reduce environmental impacts could be the new normal. Veolia asserted in its Integrated Report 2021-2022 that around 476 thousand metric tons of plastic were recycled in its transformation plants in 2021. The company has acquired a host of end technologies to recycle plastic and equipment for biological, material and energy processing. It expects around 610,000 metric tons of recycled plastic to leave its processing plants by 2023.
With China and countries from Europe and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) witnessing a surge in plastic production, stakeholders are poised to boost their efforts to eliminate waste from the environment. Leading players are likely to use polyethylene (HDPE or LDPE)—in packaging or construction—and polypropylene (PP)—in household appliances, furniture, automotive and construction. In October 2022, Veolia rolled out PlastiLoop which will help customers source recycled plastics with a host of polymers. The France-based company has been offering high-performance ready-to-use recycled resins, including HDPE, PP, PET, LDPE and PS.
PureCycle Emphasizes Social Performance
Well-established players are positioning themselves to connect brands with sustainable and high-quality products and complement social responsibilities. Recycling technology companies are prioritizing workplace safety, diversity and training & development, recruiting & hiring, discipline, compensation & benefits. To illustrate, PureCycle has a Diversity & Inclusion Policy in place to foster non-discrimination, equal employment opportunity and diversity and inclusion, among others. The company alluded to a low turnover as low as 7.5% in 2021. It has also put forth risk management systems and formed policies to help reduce possible accidents, such as team member and visitor safety protocols, a code of business conduct and ethics, guidelines for management systems and operational excellence policy. Moreover, the company is slated to establish a recruiting and employee engagement program to reinforce a resilient workforce.
Investors, manufacturers and other stakeholders have underscored the importance of workers’ safety. Prominently Shell inferred that over 100,000 employees and contractors completed compulsory training on the Life-Saving Rules that came into effect from January 2022. It is also committed to its Shell Supplier Principles and expects contractors and suppliers to offer a dedicated whistle-blowing mechanism where grievances pertaining to labor and human rights, Health, Safety, Security, Environment (HSSE) & Social Performance (SP) and business integrity are recorded anonymously.
Dow Invests in Corporate Governance Structure
Stakeholders have depicted profound inclination to enhance governance, accountability and transparency. In doing so, industry players are likely to maintain a board with diverse backgrounds, design compensation programs and ensure a culture of integrity. According to Dow’s 2021 ESG report, 5 new members of its board have been women or U.S. ethnic minorities in the last 3 years. It has also set comprehensive ESG disclosures in line with GHG Protocol, GRI, TCFD, WEF and SASB. In its 2021 report, the company alluded to meeting the 2017 commitment to fully implement the TCFD recommendation.
All board committees—audit committee; compensation and leadership development committee; corporate governance committee and Environment, Health, Safety & Technology (EHS&T) Committee— comprise independent directors. The board and its committees underscored ESG transparency and accountability with the first integrated ESG report in 2021. Furthermore, the company noted in its second annual ESG report released in June 2022 that it took a giant stride with enhanced carbon emissions reporting and climate risk disclosures and greenhouse gas intensity metrics.
Corporate governance, with the focus on recycling technologies, has become the mainstay for board members and stakeholders to remain ahead of the curve. In the last two years, Dow has reportedly infused around USD 50 million into recycling infrastructure, impact funds and major technologies to transform waste into solutions. Moreover, in June 2022, it revealed a slew of partnerships in plastics recycling, including the collaboration with Mura Technology. It will help eliminate plastic pollution with the construction of advanced recycling facilities. Mura’s first plant using the technology could begin in 2023 in England.
At a time when environmental, social and governance frameworks could propel customer-centric, innovative and sustainable, stakeholders could inject funds into organic and inorganic strategies. For instance, in January 2022, SCG Chemicals announced a collaboration with Shell to introduce eco-friendly lubricant bottles. The packaging reportedly recycles household plastic waste complying with ESG and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Grand View Research anticipates the global recycled plastic market to depict around 4.8% CAGR by 2030. Industry leaders are expected to underpin their efforts to minimize GHG emissions, prevent plastic waste and provide recycled plastic products.
- Plastic Package Industry ESG: https://astra.grandviewresearch.com/plastic-package-industry-esg-outlook
- Bioplastics Industry ESG: https://astra.grandviewresearch.com/bioplastics-industry-esg-outlook