Investor Group With $10 Trillion in AUM Urges Faster Corporate Action on Plastics
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- Amundi, Pictet, Bailard among those signing statement
- Calls for companies to back plastics treaty efforts
- Single-use plastics, toxic chemicals also targeted
Investors including Pictet and Amundi managing $10 trillion in assets, signed a statement urging consumer goods and grocery companies to do more to cut their use of plastic packaging amid rising costs and risks.
The group of 185 investors, coordinated by the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO), said plastics imposed an estimated $350 billion a year in costs on society from emissions, pollution and collection costs.
VBDO executive director Angélique Laskewitz said: “It’s worrying to see most companies in the FMCG and grocery retail sectors are taking limited action to mitigate the financial risks posed by plastics. Today investors are sending a clear signal to these companies they will face ever-increasing pressure if they don’t act soon to substantially reduce their plastic footprint.”
With policymakers increasingly focused on tightening regulations to address the problem, companies face rising risks including from bans, taxation, reputational costs and litigation.
“As responsible investors, we are concerned that companies that do not proactively address these risks… may face higher costs or lose business opportunity, therefore putting long-term value creation and investment returns at risk,” the investors said.
Consumer goods companies and retailers including Danone, L’Oréal, Sainsbury’s, Unilever and Walmart in July 2021 committed to changing their plastic packaging design in order to use less unnecessary plastic and increase recyclability, as part of the “Plastic Waste Coalition of Action”.
Just 27% of plastic packaging in the food sector was reusable, recyclable or compostable in 2021, according to data on signatories to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Commitment to a circular economy for plastics.
See related article: European Energy Partners With Novo Nordisk and LEGO to Replace Fossil-Based Materials in Plastic Production
The signatories, who represent 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally, have committed to a target of 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025.
A 2022 study by the VBDO said more than a third of companies were still not publishing data on their plastics footprint, although those to do so included Carrefour and Tesco. While some, including Metro, had a target to reduce total plastic packaging use, most did not.
Signatories to the statement included Europe’s biggest asset manager Amundi, Britain’s largest Legal & General Investment Management, U.S. investor Bailard and Swiss-based Pictet.
With actions taken so far failing to have an impact at the scale and rate required to meet targets, the investors said they expected companies to support efforts to agree an ambitious plastics treaty and advocate for legally binding measures to reduce production and boost reuse.
They should also start delivering absolute cuts in use of single-use packaging; and eliminate the use of toxic chemicals, of which more than 3,000 have been identified in food packaging, the statement said.
Source: Reuters, VBDO