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EY, Unilever and USAID Launch the CIRCLE Alliance to Support Entrepreneurs in Tackling Plastic Waste

EY, Unilever and USAID Launch the CIRCLE Alliance to Support Entrepreneurs in Tackling Plastic Waste

EY, Unilever and USAID Launch the CIRCLE Alliance to Support Entrepreneurs in Tackling Plastic Waste
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Key Impact Points:

  • Collaborative Effort: Unilever, USAID, and EY unite to form the CIRCLE Alliance, aiming to reduce plastic waste and promote circular economies.
  • Entrepreneur Support: The initiative focuses on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs in the plastics value chain to scale sustainable solutions.
  • Legislative Backing: The alliance aligns with the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, emphasizing bipartisan efforts to combat ocean plastic pollution.

Today, June 6, USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced the launch of the CIRCLE Alliance, a groundbreaking public-private collaboration between USAID, Unilever, and EY. This initiative is designed to address the global plastic pollution crisis by supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses across the plastics value chain. The initiative will initially focus on India, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Launching the CIRCLE Alliance: A Collaboration to Combat Plastic Pollution

What They Said:

“Plastic pollution is a global problem that demands urgent action. It impacts our environment, health, food security, and economies. An estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean every year—a rate that is expected to triple by 2040,” stated Administrator Power during the launch event.

Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer, highlighted the alliance’s objectives: “The CIRCLE Alliance supports Unilever’s ambition to help end plastic pollution through reduction, circulation, and collaboration.”

Amy Brachio, EY’s Global Vice Chair – Sustainability, emphasized the importance of inclusive and resilient economies: “This partnership will catalyze inclusive, resilient, and circular local economies, helping entrepreneurs scale solutions to reduce plastic use and tackle plastic waste.”

Context and Significance:

The CIRCLE Alliance, which stands for:
C – Catalyzing
I – Inclusive,
R– Resilient, and
C– Circular
L– Local
E – Economies,

– represents a significant step towards sustainable development. By combining the strengths of the public and private sectors, this initiative aims to create scalable and impactful solutions to one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time.

Additional Insights:

  • Partnership History: USAID and Unilever have a longstanding history of collaborating on initiatives focused on environmental sustainability and tackling global challenges.
  • Circular Economy Efforts: Both organizations have been involved in promoting circular economy practices, emphasizing recycling, and reuse to reduce plastic waste.
  • EY’s Role: EY has a strong track record in forming alliances that focus on sustainability, supporting efforts to reduce environmental impact through innovative business models.

The Bigger Picture:

Plastic pollution poses severe threats to marine life and ecosystems. Initiatives like the CIRCLE Alliance are crucial in driving innovation and systemic change. According to the World Bank, global plastic production has increased twentyfold since the 1960s, and without intervention, this trend will continue, exacerbating environmental degradation.

Supporting Entrepreneurs:

The CIRCLE Alliance aims to provide funding, mentorship, and resources to entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions. This support will help scale up projects that focus on plastic waste collection, recycling technologies, and the development of reusable and refillable products.

Global Impact:

The collaboration seeks to inspire similar initiatives worldwide. By showcasing successful models and best practices, the CIRCLE Alliance hopes to influence global policies and encourage other corporations and governments to invest in sustainable solutions.

The launch event also featured remarks from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Dan Sullivan, co-sponsors of the bipartisan Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, reinforcing the legislative commitment to combat ocean plastic pollution. In the second year of the Save Our Seas Initiative, USAID accelerated the creation of new country partnerships and programs to fight ocean plastics. To date, the initiative has prevented the equivalent of more than 127 billion plastic bottles from polluting our environment.

The CIRCLE Alliance is poised to make a significant impact by empowering entrepreneurs and fostering sustainable practices within the plastics value chain, contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable future.


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