None of these executives are smiling. They have launched the fund in an effort to clean up the oceans and prevent plastics from entering the evironment in the first place. Left to right: Rob Kaplan (Founder & CEO, Circulate Capital), Bambang Candra (Asia-Pacific Commercial Vice President, Dow Packaging and Speciality Plastics), Matt Echols (Vice President, Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Asia Pacific), and Matt Kovac (Executive Director, Food Industry Asia)
A venture capital fund management company in Singapore has launched a $US100 million plastic pollution fund in an effort to curtail the flow of plastics into the oceans of Asia. The partners of the fund, the Circulate Capital Ocean Fund (CCOF), include some of the largest conglomerates whose product packaging is often seen in coastal cleanups, including The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Unilever, and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company.
The fund will finance debt and equity financing for regional waste management efforts, and recycling and circular economy startups that are fighting what the fund calls a plastic crisis.
“The good news is that we are able to reduce nearly 50% of the world’s plastic leakage by investing in the waste and recycling sector in Asia, and even more if we invest in innovative materials and technologies,” Rob Kaplan, CEO of Circulate Capital said in a statement released to the media. “This is why we are here in Singapore—a strategic hub of Southeast Asia—to prove that investing in this sector is scalable for the region and can generate competitive returns while moving closer to solving the ocean plastic crisis.”
About 60 percent of marine plastics originate from Southeast Asia, with China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam the top five ocean polluting countries in the world. A large portion of these pollutants can most likely be traced to the conglomerates that are contributing to the fund. They have realized that without efforts from industry, the marine plastic pollution problem cannot be corrected.
“Financing alone cannot solve the ocean plastic crisis,” the fund wrote in its press release. “It requires a full suite of solutions from policy and corporate commitments to financial incentives and changes in CONSUMER BEHAVIOR.”
“For the beverage sector, the more recycled content used in any type of packaging such as 100% recyclable plastics, the lower the carbon footprint. That’s why at Coca-Cola we have invested in Circulate Capital and have committed to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can we produce by 2030. Beverage packaging does not need to become waste. By investing in the waste collection and recycling sector in this critical region, it can become a valuable material used again and again—a step closer towards a circular economy,” said Matt Echols, Vice President, Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainability Coca-Cola Asia Pacific.
Circulate Capital was created in collaboration with Closed Loop Partners and Ocean Conservancy, and our founding investors include PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, the fund wrote.
Many people want to blame brands for the plastics that end up into the ocean, as if a company such as Coca Cola tells you to throw the bottle in the ocean. They don’t. But those bottles still end up in the ocean.
We as consumers have to find ways to minimize the plastic, paper, tin, e-waste etc. that we use everyday from leaking into the ocean. The solution can be as simple as buying less. Reduce and then refuse.
If you can do without soda, that’s one less consumer and one less plastic bottle that ends up in the ocean.
If you can do without SPAM, that’s one less tin can that ends up in the ocean.
See where you can cut down. Imagine if 8 billion people cut down on soda intake, do the math.
Reduce your use of online shopping. For example, according to Fast Company, about 165 million packages are shipped every year in the United States. That equals about 1 billion trees. That is a lot of cardboard that gets, for the most part thrown away, with much of it ending in the oceans.
In the Philippines, online shopping portal Lazada broke records for Singles day last November 11. It reported that a single shopper spent P1.2 million, and more than one million products were sold during the first hour of the online shopping sale. Imagine what the total was for the entire day. Filipinos spent 205 million minutes shopping on the website November 11. A sample of the breakdown, according to Interaksyon, is telling: More than 200,000 toys and games were sold, 13 million diapers, 240,000 pairs of sneakers and 10,000 pieces of luggage. That is not to mention 348 pre-ordered cars.
Where does all that packaging go? It has to go somewhere. Lazada and the maker of Pampers are not entirely responsible for the waste that is generated, the consumer is. The consumer is responsible for what is purchased. Companies though are beginning to take notice in how their products are packaged. Coca Cola announced that Coca Cola Sweden is the first to adopt 100 percent recycled plastic for its products. The company says the switch will prevent the use of 3,500 tons of virgin plastic each year and 25% fewer CO2 emissions.
The state of California is considering what many believe are the toughest plastic pollution law in the country, which, if passed, would require industry to recycle or reduce the amount of single-use plastic packaging used for consumer goods. Currently there are three bills before the California state legislature that addresses the issue of single-use plastics and the massive and widespread pollution that comes from the use of this man-made material. The bills would require companies that sell products found in grocery and fast food restaurants to take most of the responsibility in cutting the amount of plastic waste produced.
If the bill(s) become law, by January 1, 2030, all single-use plastic packaging and food products, such as plates, cutlery, cups, bowls, and straws, would have to be made of recyclable materials or made of materials that can be composted. Secondly, by 2030, the bill would mandate a 75 percent reduction in waste that is created by single use plastic packaging in the state. CalRecycle, the state agency tasked with managing the state’s recycling efforts, would be required to draft the rules by 2024.
“Californians want to recycle,” Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, told the San Jose Mercury News. “They want to take responsibility for our waste stream. But the market conditions don’t exist to recycle a lot of these materials. We need manufacturers to step up and take responsibility.”
Industry has opposed the bills, claiming a massive bureaucracy would be created on top of what it sees as a broken recycling system. While many existing containers can be recycled, and there are numbered coding schemes on every recyclable piece of plastic, other items, such as Styrofoam food containers, and milk cartons and juice boxes made of plastic-coated paper, cannot. These items would be banned for sale in the state unless the companies selling them take them back and recycle them, or build them in a way that makes them easily composted.
“We oppose the bills primarily because of the massive bureaucracy that they would set on top of our broken recycling system,” John Hewitt, senior director of state affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, told the Mercury News. The GMA represents food, beverage and consumer product companies. “There’s not a shared responsibility.”
Those opposed to this trio of bills say that industry that uses these types of plastics are already working toward recyclable packaging. Five of the largest such companies in the world: Nestle, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Unilever and Anheuser Busch, have already set a 2025 deadline to make their packaging 100 percent recyclable or compostable, while 80 percent of the largest consumer packaging companies have set a deadline of 2030, according to the Grocery Manufacturing Association, which released a paper called Reduce. Reuse. Confuse. How Best Intentions Have Led to Confusion, Contamination, and a Broken Recycling System in America.
The deadline for these bills is today, September, 13, they will either pass or die for the year.
Clean Our Oceans Project announced it is working with SESOU Nature Source, a manufacturer of plant and mineral-based products such as soaps, shampoos, sanitizers, toothpaste and other home use products, to help the company ’s customers reduce the accumulation of plastic packaging by upcycling SESOU Nature Source packaging. The partners will help turn that packaging into durable goods such as school chairs and garbage bins.
Clean Our Oceans Project will place blue recycling bins in The SESOU Nature Source Alabang Town Center store and will further roll out bins at the following locations:
Customers of the environmentally responsible company should bring empty, clean and dry SESOU bottles to the stores for upcycling.
Below is the process of how the used plastics should be returned:
a. Empty all contents (including Gugo Bark, when applicable). Keep labels intact.
b. Rinse well under running water
c. Air-dry completely
d. Collect in a cloth bag or sack
COOP will collect these cleaned plastics weekly from the stores and will deliver these plastics to the upcycling facility. Both entities have agreed to embark on a social media campaign to highlight the efforts of both COOP and SESOU Nature Source.
“We applaud SESOU Nature Source in taking the initiative to work with COOP in an effort to keep plastics away from the oceans and landfills,” said Anna Varona, founder of COOP. “It is a step in a positive direction and we hope that more companies will join us in helping to keep our oceans clean.”
Clean, dry and segregated plastics are used to manufacture utilitarian products such as crates, school chairs, tables, monoblock-type chairs and recycling bins. The circular economy is complete by bringing the plastics back to humans for reuse, providing livelihood and keeping plastics away from the oceans and landfills.
Congressman Rufino B. Biazon, representative of the Lone District of Muntinlupa City, has introduced a bill that would require companies that produce plastic products and packaging to label those plastics according to the plastic resins used to make the materials. The Plastics Labelling Act of 2019 is similar in scope to what occurs in the United States and elsewhere, where numbers and a triangle symbol are added to plastics to help determine what those plastics are comprised of (polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, etc.) and how they can be recycled or upcycled. These numbers are from the ASTM International Resin Identification Coding System.
“Clearly, there is a need to put into place a system that would hasten the management and disposal of plastic products in order to minimize their harmful impact on the environment,” Biazon said in the explanatory note of the bill that he will introduce during the 18th Congress, First Regular Session. “The labelling of plastic products before they come out of the factories is envisioned to help achieve this objective. In this manner, it is hoped that post-consumer plastic products will be easier to sort according to what may be recycled and what may already be considered waste.”
The Plastics Labelling Act of 2019 would require manufacturers to label their plastics with a number from 1 to 7 based on the type of plastic, inside arrows that comprise a triangle shape. A ban would take effect for plastics that are not labelled accordingly and fines would be assessed for violating the provisions of the act.
Coop’s Take: This is a much needed and necessary bill. The Philippines is the world’s third largest polluter of plastic waste, according to The Wall Street Journal, and labeling these plastics is a first step in getting more plastics out of the oceans and landfills and into a recycling/upcycling stream. We support this bill and hope that you will too.
Wyeth Nutrition recently invited Clean Our Oceans Project to give a workshop to its employees in hopes of gaining insight into how its employees can reduce their plastic waste. Wyeth and CoOp will hopefully collaborate on education and awareness campaigns regarding plastic waste and the workshop was the first step.
The entities are hoping to collaborate on projects that will benefit the environment as they want to contribute to winning the war on plastic pollution.
“We have a whole line up of initiatives (including a partnership with CoOp) to educate and engage employees with the aim of reducing the use of plastic,” Wyeth’s Claudine Serrano told CoOp.
While this is just the first step, it is important as corporations have realized the impact that plastic pollution has on the environment, and how marine plastics detrimentally affects the oceans. If you wish to learn more about reduing your plastic waste, waste management and upcycling, please contact us.