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Carbon Disclosure Project: 3,000 companies reveal plastic impacts as financial institutions call for mandatory reporting

#Carbon Disclosure Project: 3,000 companies reveal plastic impacts as financial institutions call for mandatory reporting

14 Nov 2023 — More than 3,000 companies, boasting a combined market capitalization value exceeding US$31 trillion, have publicly disclosed their plastic production and usage details through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the global environmental disclosure platform. The disclosure aligns with the ongoing third round of Global Plastics Treaty negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya, this week.

Notable contributors include companies such as Unilever, Sumitomo Chemical and Johnson & Johnson. These household names provided information on the production, usage and disposal of “most problematic” plastics, spanning sectors from electronics to F&B processing.

The disclosure push is further supported by 48 financial institutions with assets totaling over US$3.5 trillion. These institutions endorsed an open letter led by CDP to global governments, requesting that mandatory corporate disclosure of plastics be included in the Global Plastics Treaty.

“Mandatory disclosure can prevent loopholes and ensure policymakers have access to the insight they need to develop impactful, evidence-based policies that drive private sector action,” stresses Pietro Bertazzi, global director for policy engagement and external affairs at CDP.

“Now, negotiators must heed the powerful signal sent by over 3,000 companies and leading financial institutions and ensure provisions on mandatory disclosure are cemented as a key tenet of the Global Plastics Treaty.”

Mandatory disclosure calls
CDP launched the plastics disclosure platform in April. In its inaugural year of reporting, companies were requested to divulge information on plastic polymers, durable plastics and plastic packaging across their value chains. 

The full findings from CDP’s first year of plastics disclosure will be released in the spring of 2024. “More than 3,000 companies disclosing their plastic-related information through CDP is a powerful step in the right direction toward a world where action on plastic pollution and waste is business as usual,” continues Bertazzi.

“However, voluntary action alone is not enough. With plastic consumption increasing and GHG emissions from plastic production expected to double by 2060, companies must be transparent and accountable for their contributions to plastic pollution and waste.”

The call for mandatory disclosure reflects a broader movement within the private sector to address the financial, physical, legal, regulatory and reputational risks associated with plastic pollution. Financial institutions, including Coller Capital and Green Century Funds, underscored the value of understanding these risks and opportunities for informed investment decision-making.

“There is value in understanding the risks and opportunities associated with companies’ plastic footprints,” says Adam Black, head of ESG & Sustainability at Coller Capital. “We believe that plastic-related disclosure will enhance investment decision-making and make for more informed post-investment engagement.”

Data for pollution mitigation
In the letter, the 48 institutions write that they “recognize the pivotal significance of comprehensive plastic data in tackling the environmental and financial risks associated with plastics.”

“Our objective is to establish robust text mandating corporate disclosure of comprehensive plastic data within the Global Plastics Treaty, covering the risks, opportunities, impacts and dependencies associated with the entire lifecycle of plastic products, from creation to responsible disposal.”

The letter calls for “transparent, reliable and comprehensive” data that encompasses risk assessment, opportunities identification, dependencies and impacts, and target setting.

With the financial institutions supporting mandatory disclosure, negotiators at the Global Plastics Treaty are urged to acknowledge the necessity of data reporting mechanisms in addressing the growing plastic pollution crisis.

“As stewards of capital and investments, financial institutions play a pivotal role in guiding industries and companies toward sustainable practices and responsible resource management. The tangible impacts of plastic pollution on financial portfolios, supply chains and the communities in which they operate are a matter of significant concern,” reads the letter.

“In this context, comprehensive plastic data is the cornerstone upon which informed decisions and strategic actions are built. To make informed choices and align our investments with sustainability objectives, including those outlined in the Global Plastics Treaty, access to transparent, reliable and comprehensive data is imperative.”

By Radhika Sikaria

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