Only 22 companies out of 147 are on track to meet their plastic waste reduction targets, report finds

In total, the report reviewed 225 companies and their progress toward plastic-related goals, with about half of companies receiving an “F” score.

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SOURCEEcoWatch
Image credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr
Image credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr

In a new report, the nonprofit As You Sow has found that of 147 companies with recyclability targets, only 22 are on track to meet their goals. In total, the report reviewed 225 companies and their progress toward plastic-related goals, with about half of companies receiving an “F” score.

The 2024 Plastic Promises Scorecard has revealed a gap between the plastic waste reduction goals that companies set and the actual actions they are making toward meeting those goals. The report evaluated companies on a total score based on their ambitions and their actions toward goals related to six pillars: recyclability, reduction, recycled content, recovery, reusable and extended producer responsibility. Ambitions counted toward 30% of the total score, while the actual actions companies were taking made up 70% of the final score.

“Plastic Promises Scorecard uses a first-of-its-kind scoring system to evaluate not just what companies say they will do to act on the plastics crisis, but what they have actually accomplished,” Venky Kini, data lead and report partner, said in a press release. “We are pleased to present this tool for companies to evaluate their progress against their peers and identify opportunities for new action and ambition.” 

As Grist reported, even though many companies have goals to reduce their plastics, they are often using more plastic. According to the report, about 100 companies have pledges to use less virgin plastic, but rather than reducing their reliance on plastic, they have plans to swap virgin plastics for recycled plastics.

The findings showed that most of the companies in the report had targets to incorporate recycled content, but the same companies weren’t investing in recycling infrastructure to collect old packaging and recycle it. Only nine of the 225 companies had even set goals to create zero-waste packaging that could be reused or recycled indefinitely, rather than becoming waste.

According to a 2020 report titled Breaking the Plastic Wave, which was cited in the Plastic Promises Scorecard, existing plastic waste reduction pledges by companies and governments are far short of what is needed to prevent plastic pollution from building up in the environment. Breaking the Plastic Wave revealed that if companies and governments met their existing pledges, it would reduce the flow of plastic reaching the oceans by only 7% by 2040. Already, ocean plastic pollution is expected to triple by 2040 without interventions, reaching 29 million metric tons per year.

The latest Plastic Promises Scorecard did show some hope, though. It found that more companies were supportive of producer responsibility legislation, and As You Sow shared in a press release that shareholders for multiple companies, including Hershey and Amazon, were supportive of more sustainable packaging initiatives.

“Companies can use the recommendations and scoring methodology in the Plastic Promises Scorecard to prepare for a future where plastic packaging pollution is no longer an acceptable part of doing business,” said Kelly McBee, lead author of the report and circular economy manager at As You Sow. “This report is designed to be actionable and transparent, giving companies the tools and solutions they need to create a circular economy for plastic.”

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Based in Los Angeles, Paige Bennett is a writer who is passionate about sustainability. Aside from writing for EcoWatch, Paige also writes for Insider, HomeAdvisor, Thrillist, EuroCheapo, Eat This, Not That! and more. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Ohio University and holds a certificate in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She also specialized in sustainable agriculture while pursuing her undergraduate degree. When she's not writing, Paige enjoys decorating her apartment, enjoying a cup of coffee and experimenting in the kitchen (with local, seasonal ingredients, of course!).

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