Big brands admit to putting millions of tonnes of packaging on the market annually

Major firms including Coca-Cola and Unilever have detailed the amount of packaging that they produce each year in a new report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative.

Major firms including Coca-Cola and Unilever have detailed the amount of packaging that they produce each year in a new report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative.  

This report is in collaboration with the UN Environment.  


Major firms have publicly disclosed their annual plastic packaging volumes, signalling a vital step towards transparency in the plastic system, as well as outlining the actions that they are taking to tackle the plastic problem. 

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Some of the firms within the report failed to reveal the amount of plastic packaging volumes they create, including PepsiCo, H&M Group, Kellogg Company, Marks and Spencer and L’Oréal. 

Other major firms that released this information showed that the totals they placed on the market were: 

  • Coca-Cola – 3,000,000 mt 
  • Nestle – 1,700,000 mt 
  • Danone – 750,000 mt 
  • Unilever – 610,000 mt 
  • Colgate-Palmolive Company – 287,008 mt 

Key points of the report include: 

  • Consumer goods companies and retailers are committing to increase the recycled content in their packaging to an average of 25% by 2025, compared with the current global average of 2%. This means that the recycled content targets for plastic in packaging represent 5 million tonnes by 2025 
  • Leading businesses and government will end the use of problematic and unnecessary plastic, including PVC and single-use plastic straws and carrier bags, with many by the end of the year 
  • 40 brands and retailers are piloting or growing reuse and refill schemes.  

While the Foundation has welcomed these efforts, it has called for more action to eliminate problematic plastic packaging, and a greater shift to reuse delivery models that reduce the need for single-use packaging.  

The report follows the launch of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment in October 2018, which created a vision to prevent plastic waste and pollution at the source by applying circular economy principles.  

Since then, the number of signatories has risen to more than 350 and now includes Apple, Barilla, Tetrapak and L’OCCITANE en Provence, as well as the government of Rwanda and the cities of Sáo Paulo (Brazil) and Ljubljana (Slovenia). 

New Plastics Economy lead Sander Defruyt said: “The targets and action plans set out in this report are a significant step forward compared with the pace of change of past decades. However, they are still far from truly matching the scale of the problem, particularly when it comes to the elimination of unnecessary items and innovation towards reuse models. 

“Ambition levels must continue to rise to make real strides in addressing global plastic pollution by 2025, and moving from commitment to action is crucial. Major investments, innovations, and transformation programmes need to start now.” 

UN Environment, Coordinator of the Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Branch Lisa Svensson said: “UN Environment is delighted to be working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to help turn the tide on plastic pollution. Within just a few months of the launch of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, we have seen important progress. The Foundation’s work to create a circular economy for plastic aligns very well with our Clean Seas campaign, which has become the biggest global compact addressing marine plastic.” 

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