On July 24, 2018, non-governmental organization ClientEarth published a report called Risk unwrapped: Plastic pollution as a material business risk and said that companies face serious material business risks for their involvement in creating plastic waste.

And the UK Local Government Association found that only one-third of collected plastic food packaging is recyclable. It called for better packaging design, ban on low-grade plastics, and greater contribution of producers to cost of collection and disposal.

The Zurich-based Food Packaging Forum Foundation reported, that ClientEarth said the report, “details four types of business risk that companies may be exposed to and sets out the legal obligations on their directors to take action to deal with these risks.”

The four types of business risks identified in the report include:

[1] Transition risks: risks arising from the transition from a linear economy to a more circular economy, including an increased regulatory burden and disruptive technological change;

[2] Reputational risks: the risk of damaging or losing the organization’s reputational capital;

[3] Physical risks: risks arising from the presence of plastic pollution in the environment. These can impact on infrastructure and workforce productivity, disrupt supply chains, and cause resource scarcity;

and

[4] Liability risks: those arising whenever parties who have suffered a loss of damage from plastic pollution seek to recover from others whom they allege to be responsible.”

The liability risks also include litigation risks, e.g., prosecution for failure to timely comply with new regulations.

ClientEarth concludes that companies that are “intensive plastic users and producers should be aware of the material business risks derived from plastic pollution, manage those risks in a diligent way, and disclose them, as required by law.”

This means that “existing corporate governance, risk management, and disclosure practices need to be revisited to ensure they accommodate the issues” discussed in the new report.

Read more at: “Risk unwrapped: Plastic pollution as a material business risk.

The Food Packaging Forum Foundation said that on August 4, 2018, the newspaper The Guardian and the BBC reported on an analysis by the UK Local Government Association (LGA), finding that only one-third of collected plastic food packaging can actually be recycled. The rest is sent to landfill.

According to the LGA, UK households use about 525,000 metric tons of plastic pots, tubs, and trays per year, but only 169,000 metric tons of this waste is recyclable. This is because manufacturers often use a mix of polymers, low-grade plastics, or black plastics, all of which are difficult or impossible to recycle.

"Therefore, manufacturers should collaborate with councils to stop using unrecyclable plastics, the government should consider a ban on low-grade plastics, and packaging producers should pay for the costs of collection and disposal of unrecyclable products," the LGA suggested. Further, the association provided five examples of difficult-to-recycle food packaging and offered ideas for improvement.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres noted in his message for World Environment Day, that microplastic particles in the ocean, “now outnumber stars in our galaxy”.

In his message marking the day on June 5, he said a healthy planet was essential for a prosperous and peaceful future, spelling out that: “We all have a role to play in protecting our only home.”

“Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste,” he stated. “Every year, more than eight million tonnes end up in the oceans.”

Pointing out the astonishing comparison between stars in the cosmos and ocean plastics, Mr. Guterres underscored that “from remote islands to the Arctic, nowhere is untouched.”

If present trends continue, by 2050 the oceans would have more plastic than fish, he said.

On World Environment Day, Mr. Guterres encouraged everyone to also stop using plastic products which are designed just to be thrown away, such as plastic bottles.

“Refuse what you can’t re-use,” he asserted. “Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world,” concluded the Secretary-General.

Ekoplaza opened plastic-free aisle

In the Netherlands, organic supermarket chain Ekoplaza announced late February the opening of an aisle with more than 700 grocery lines, none which used plastic packaging, believed to be the first retail chain to take this initiative.

Food products in the plastic-free section use glass, metal and cardboard containers, including products using a biofilm made from plants and trees that break down in 12 weeks in a home composter.

Ekoplaza operates over 70 stores in The Netherlands and is rolling out the initiative to all its stores by the end of 2018.