In order to fight the millions of tons of plastic waste global food and beverage giants Nestlé and Danone together with packaging specialist Tetra Pak and waste management company Veolia have launched a new initiative to reduce, recover, and recycle plastic in packaging called The 3R Initiative.
The 3R Corporate Standard is designed to hold corporations accountable for plastic waste by independently assessing them against a set of guidelines. The standard is third-party certified, so companies can use the standard to credibly quantify the impacts of their own efforts and their waste recovery and recycling investments.
Core of the initiative is the 3R Crediting Mechanism which allows for the trading of credits in return for plastic recovery and recycling activities. Such activities include community waste collection from environment, waste pickers’ recovery of recyclable material, ocean clean-up efforts, and new municipal waste collection and/or recycling infrastructure. Credits can be acquired by companies looking to mitigate the portion of their waste footprint that cannot be tackled directly. In turn, waste recovery and recycling projects can use the revenues from credit sales to support and expand their efforts.
The initiative has initially earmarked 12 pilot projects across Asia, Africa and Latin America which could be supported by the credit-system, including one to help Brazil’s waste pickers to generate additional income, and another one in South East Asia to build new recycling infrastructure.
"To solve the problem of plastic pollution at scale, we need market-based solutions that can be used at scale and replicated worldwide. Market instruments such as credits provide the basis for a cost efficient and environmentally sound solution for plastic recovery and recycling." said Pedro Moura Costa, co-founder and president of BVRio, a non-profit organisation specialised in developing market mechanisms for the environment. His company leads the initiative together with Verra, another non-profit organization specialized in setting international environmental standards.
However, recovering and recycling plastic waste (the second two r’s of the initiative) is only the second best option for the environment. Main goal should always be to reduce (the first r) waste by avoid using plastic in packaging.
In February 2019, Carlsberg announced after a successful market test in the UK, to go global with a new eco-friendly packaging for six-packs which replaces the traditional plastic rings by tough glue that holds the beer cans together (inside.beer, 5.2.2019).
In April 2018, Diageo said the company would invest GBP16million (USD21m) to replace plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap from beer multipacks by 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable cardboard (inside.beer, 15.3.2019).
Other initiatives include replacing PET bottles by light-weight glass bottles, the use of fully recyclable non-returnable stainless steel kegs instead of PET one-way kegs by leading German brewery Oettinger (inside.beer, 29.7.2017), and the ban of drinking straws and shopping bags made from plastic in several countries.