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Calls for greater transparency across the plastics supply chain


4 November 2020 at 5:58 pm
Luke Michael
It is estimated that plastic costs the world more than US$2.2 trillion (A$3.1 trillion) a year in environmental and social damage


Luke Michael | 4 November 2020 at 5:58 pm


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Calls for greater transparency across the plastics supply chain
4 November 2020 at 5:58 pm

It is estimated that plastic costs the world more than US$2.2 trillion (A$3.1 trillion) a year in environmental and social damage

The ocean plastic pollution crisis cannot be effectively addressed without greater transparency across the global plastics supply chain, new research warns. 

A joint report from the Minderoo Foundation and SYSTEMIQ said while over one million tons of plastic enters rivers and oceans worldwide every month, there is little transparency around the material flows over the entirety of the plastics life-cycle – from production to consumption.

This has hampered global efforts to change industry practices, with civil society groups unable to properly hold companies to account and regulators struggling to allocate limited public resources effectively.

In response, Minderoo Foundation and SYSTEMIQ have outlined a global approach to transparency, which they believe will make it possible to achieve a circular, zero-leakage plastics economy.

Nakul Saran, COO of Minderoo Foundation’s Sea The Future program, said mapping out the entire plastics supply chain was needed to enable better decision-making.

“There is little-to-no information on how materials flow from production to disposal, how virgin plastics production is funded, the true impact of plastic pollution on social, environmental and economic systems, and on the responsibilities, strategies and commitments of stakeholders involved,” Saran said. 

“The climate crisis is just one example of how shining a light on industry supply chains can expose important issues. 

“While there is a long way to go, it shows that supply chain transparency can lead to greater consumer awareness and action, industry taking responsibility, and positive change.” 

It is estimated that plastic costs the world more than US$2.2 trillion (A$3.1 trillion) every year in environmental and social damage.

The report offers three mutually reinforcing approaches in order to create greater transparency in the global plastics system.

  • Developing outside-in and shadow reporting based on the collection, analysis and publication of data, knowledge and insights by academic institutions, NGOs, inter-governmental organisations and commercial analysts.
  • Increasing public and investor pressure for the voluntary disclosure of data and information by the plastics industry for comparative purposes.
  • Boosting regulated disclosure of data and information on plastic use, impacts and mitigation strategies by policymakers and governments.

The report said these approaches require the joint commitment of industry, investors, regulators and society. 

SYSTEMIQ founder Martin Stuchtey said while the amount of ocean plastic flow is expected to triple over the next two decades, there was technology available that could instead reduce plastic flow by 80 per cent over this same period. 

“But make no mistake, this will not be easy,” Stuchtey said.

“We need to start from a place of radical transparency across the supply chain – from petrochemical suppliers and producers, to retailers and recyclers.

“This data provides the basis from which business and government can take effective decisions and actions to end ocean plastic pollution in a generation.” 

The full report can be seen here


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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