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Circular economy

Why we can’t recycle our way out of the plastic crisis

Experts from the United Nations, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Coca-Cola Europe discuss the challenges of solving our plastics crisis – and how finance plays a key role in solving it

16/08/2023

 

PODCAST: Solving our plastics crisis

Listen to a debate from experts at the United Nations, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Coca-Cola Europe on the plastics crisis and how we can solve it.

Only 2% of recycled plastic makes it back into the system for reuse, even though we have had a plastic recycling scheme for more than 40 years now. If we don’t act now, by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Recycling is not the only answer to the plastic pollution crisis. It’s important that manufacturers who use plastic also join the conversation. 

Listen to the latest Intesa Sanpaolo talks to hear experts from the United Nations, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Coca-Cola Europe discuss how we solve our plastics problem. 

 

 

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest challenges for the circular economy to tackle. If we don’t act now, by 2050 the oceans will have more plastic in them than fish.

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative aims to use financial solutions to eliminate plastic pollution from the planet. Intesa Sanpaolo is a member of the UN initiative.

Peggy Lefort, pollution and circular economy lead at the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, says: “To reduce plastic pollution for short-use plastics by 2040 will require whole-systems change.

“It will require us to change the way we produce and use plastics away from our current linear model towards a circular model, and this will require a massive re-directing of financial force.

“The finance sector has a role to play to support their clients in transitioning to a circular plastics economy.”

"To reduce plastic pollution for short-use plastics by 2040 will require whole-systems change. It will require us to change the way we produce and use plastics away from our current linear model towards a circular model, and this will require a massive re-directing of financial force.
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Peggy Lefort, pollution and circular economy lead at the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative

Changing the current system is not only good for the planet – it will also create cost savings estimated at around $4.5tn by 2040.

“I am confident because science tells us it is possible,” says Peggy Lefort.

Finance must work with manufacturing to encourage transformation in plastics use. That’s why Intesa Sanpaolo is the first strategic financial services partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), a charity committed to making the Circular Economy a reality. This partnership has been in place since 2015.

Solving plastic pollution through rethinking systems is one of the EMF’s biggest priorities.

“The problem is huge,” says Gilonne Traub, partnership manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “We just can’t ignore it.

“It’s not just about the Great Pacific garbage patch. I live in Europe, in England. When I walk down the beach with my children, I see plastic pieces there.”

"The problem is huge. We just can’t ignore it. It’s not just about the Great Pacific garbage patch. I live in Europe, in England. When I walk down the beach with my children, I see plastic pieces there.”
"

Gilonne Traub, partnership manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Currently, even though we’ve had recycling systems in place for around 40 years, only 14% of plastic packaging gets recycled and only 2% makes it back into the system for reuse.

Recycling is therefore not the single answer to the plastics pollution crisis. It’s vital that manufacturers who use plastic also join the conversation. Coca-Cola Europe, for instance, is another strategic partner to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

“We’ve got a lot of challenges because we have to provide a holistic solution on a market-by-market basis,” says Ana Gascón, director of the World Without Waste initiative at Coca-Cola Europe.

“We operate in more than 200 countries, and in those markets every geography has a unique situation – different governments, different legislative environments and different consumer behaviours.

"We’ve got a lot of challenges because we have to provide a holistic solution on a market-by-market basis. We operate in more than 200 countries, and in those markets every geography has a unique situation – different governments, different legislative environments and different consumer behaviours.
"

Ana Gascón, director of the World Without Waste initiative at Coca-Cola Europe.

“Being a partner to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is absolutely key for us. Through the collaboration we are capable of addressing complex challenges.”

Listen to the podcast to hear debate and discussion on how finance and manufacturing can help solve our plastics problem.

 

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