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Valuing plastic: the business case for measuring, managing and disclosing plastic use in the consumer goods industry

Published by: UNEP


About

The objective of this report is to help companies manage the opportunities and risks associated with plastic use. It articulates the business case for companies to improve their measurement, disclosure and management of plastic use in their designs, operations and supply chains. In order to provide a sense of scale, the report sets out to quantify the physical impacts of plastic use translated into monetary terms. This metric can be seen as the current value-at-risk to a company, should these external impacts be realised internally through mechanisms like strengthened regulation, loss of market share, or increased price of raw materials and energy. This metric can also be used to help understand the magnitude of the opportunities, and the tangible benefits to stakeholders, including shareholders, of using plastic in an environmentally sustainable way.

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General Information

SDGs Goal 12: Responsible consumption, production Goal 14: Life below water
Published
2014
Thematic Area
Sustainability
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Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources. Agriculture is the biggest user of water worldwide, and irrigation now claims close to 70 percent of all freshwater appropriated for human use.

The efficient management of our shared natural resources, and the way we dispose of toxic waste and pollutants, are important targets to achieve this goal. Encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is equally important, as is supporting developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030.

A large share of the world population is still consuming far too little to meet even their basic needs. Halving per capita global food waste at the retailer and consumer levels is also important for creating more efficient production and supply chains. This can help with food security and shift us towards a more resource efficient economy.

Responsible production and consumption is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 12.

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Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources. Agriculture is the biggest user of water worldwide, and irrigation now claims close to 70 percent of all freshwater appropriated for human use.

The efficient management of our shared natural resources, and the way we dispose of toxic waste and pollutants, are important targets to achieve this goal. Encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is equally important, as is supporting developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030.

A large share of the world population is still consuming far too little to meet even their basic needs. Halving per capita global food waste at the retailer and consumer levels is also important for creating more efficient production and supply chains. This can help with food security and shift us towards a more resource efficient economy.

Responsible production and consumption is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 12.

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The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund is collaborating with partners, including from the private sector, to promote more responsible consumption and outsourcing practices, with a particular focus on ensuring that local farmers can obtain a fairer share of the value generated across the value chain.

For example,

  • The SDG Fund is working with the UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors, the Roca Brothers chefs, who are leading a conversation on how chefs can make a difference in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. At the UN ECOSOC Chamber they gathered with key representatives of the food, nutrition, and development world to discuss how the food industry can contribute to achieve the SDGs and make food accessible for everyone everywhere. They are already working on the ground in some specific projects, including in Nigeria.
  • In Peru, the SDG Fund is contributing to establish an inclusive value chain in the production of quinoa and other Andean grains, so that the increased demand in the international market can convert into economic and social improvements of currently vulnerable producers.
  • In Fiji, the SDG Fund is promoting organic agriculture, a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved. The programme is working with the tourism industry to ensure that organic production satisfies a growing demand in the industry.
  • In Bolivia, the SDG Fund joint programme is supporting four municipalities to establish sustainable agricultural production systems which will increase the incomes of the poorest families and improve the nutritional state of boys, girls and mothers.
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The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund is collaborating with partners, including from the private sector, to promote more responsible consumption and outsourcing practices, with a particular focus on ensuring that local farmers can obtain a fairer share of the value generated across the value chain.

For example,

  • The SDG Fund is working with the UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors, the Roca Brothers chefs, who are leading a conversation on how chefs can make a difference in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. At the UN ECOSOC Chamber they gathered with key representatives of the food, nutrition, and development world to discuss how the food industry can contribute to achieve the SDGs and make food accessible for everyone everywhere. They are already working on the ground in some specific projects, including in Nigeria.
  • In Peru, the SDG Fund is contributing to establish an inclusive value chain in the production of quinoa and other Andean grains, so that the increased demand in the international market can convert into economic and social improvements of currently vulnerable producers.
  • In Fiji, the SDG Fund is promoting organic agriculture, a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved. The programme is working with the tourism industry to ensure that organic production satisfies a growing demand in the industry.
  • In Bolivia, the SDG Fund joint programme is supporting four municipalities to establish sustainable agricultural production systems which will increase the incomes of the poorest families and improve the nutritional state of boys, girls and mothers.
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  • Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries
  • By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
  • By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses
  • By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment
  • By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
  • Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
  • Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities
  • By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
  • Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production
  • Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products
  • Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities
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  • Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries
  • By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
  • By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses
  • By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment
  • By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
  • Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
  • Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities
  • By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
  • Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production
  • Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products
  • Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities
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Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counter balance the effects of climate change.

Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. However, today we are seeing 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks overexploited, well below a level at which they can produce sustainable yields.

Oceans also absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, and we are seeing a 26 percent rise in ocean acidification since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Marine pollution, an overwhelming majority of which comes from land-based sources, is reaching alarming levels, with an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter to be found on every square kilometer of ocean.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) create a framework to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from land-based pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Enhancing conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources through international law will also help mitigate some of the challenges facing our oceans.

Protecting our oceans is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 14.

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Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counter balance the effects of climate change.

Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. However, today we are seeing 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks overexploited, well below a level at which they can produce sustainable yields.

Oceans also absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, and we are seeing a 26 percent rise in ocean acidification since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Marine pollution, an overwhelming majority of which comes from land-based sources, is reaching alarming levels, with an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter to be found on every square kilometer of ocean.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) create a framework to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from land-based pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Enhancing conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources through international law will also help mitigate some of the challenges facing our oceans.

Protecting our oceans is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 14.

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  • By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
  • By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
  • Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels
  • By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
  • By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information
  • By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation
  • By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
  • Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
  • Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
  • Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
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  • By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
  • By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
  • Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels
  • By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
  • By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information
  • By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation
  • By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
  • Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
  • Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
  • Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
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The concept of long term sustainability of development programmes is constantly evolving.

The SDG Fund definition involves:

  1. Inclusion and participation in programme initiatives within the vision of a Human Rights-based approach
  2. Economic use of resources in programme implementation
  3. Sustainability of programme achievements after termination of activities
  4. Mainstreaming environment and climate change in development programmes

For our programmes integrating sustainability requires an analysis of the governance architecture and the different stages of the programme cycle. At the national level, this could include the formulation of national policies, long term and multi-year development plans, sectoral budgetary allocation processes, and regulatory processes. At the level of projects on the ground, climate change adaptation considerations might need to be factored within specific elements of the project cycle.

As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens. The following criteria are essential elements to be observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under consideration could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

The following publications offer useful guidance for introducing environmental sustainability and climate change sensitivity into development programmes:

See also this list of references from the UNFCCC on how to mainstream climate change into development programming.

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

The concept of long term sustainability of development programmes is constantly evolving.

The SDG Fund definition involves:

  1. Inclusion and participation in programme initiatives within the vision of a Human Rights-based approach
  2. Economic use of resources in programme implementation
  3. Sustainability of programme achievements after termination of activities
  4. Mainstreaming environment and climate change in development programmes

For our programmes integrating sustainability requires an analysis of the governance architecture and the different stages of the programme cycle. At the national level, this could include the formulation of national policies, long term and multi-year development plans, sectoral budgetary allocation processes, and regulatory processes. At the level of projects on the ground, climate change adaptation considerations might need to be factored within specific elements of the project cycle.

As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens. The following criteria are essential elements to be observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under consideration could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

The following publications offer useful guidance for introducing environmental sustainability and climate change sensitivity into development programmes:

See also this list of references from the UNFCCC on how to mainstream climate change into development programming.

[safe_summary] => ) ) ) [field_short_description] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains. [format] => [safe_value] => Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains. ) ) ) [field_icon_class] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => fa fa-recycle [format] => [safe_value] => fa fa-recycle ) ) ) [field_subtitle] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] =>

Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains

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Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains

) ) ) [field_image] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [fid] => 8 [uid] => 1 [filename] => Nicaragua-environment-woman-at-well.jpg [uri] => public://Nicaragua-environment-woman-at-well.jpg [filemime] => image/jpeg [filesize] => 137912 [status] => 1 [timestamp] => 1449239930 [type] => image [field_file_image_alt_text] => Array ( ) [field_file_image_title_text] => Array ( ) [rdf_mapping] => Array ( ) [metadata] => Array ( [height] => 1183 [width] => 1600 ) [alt] => [title] => [height] => 1183 [width] => 1600 ) ) ) [field_type] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => crosscuting_issue ) ) ) [field_paragraphs] => Array ( ) [rdf_mapping] => Array ( [rdftype] => Array ( [0] => sioc:Item [1] => foaf:Document ) [title] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => dc:title ) ) [created] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => dc:date [1] => dc:created ) [datatype] => xsd:dateTime [callback] => date_iso8601 ) [changed] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => dc:modified ) [datatype] => xsd:dateTime [callback] => date_iso8601 ) [body] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => content:encoded ) ) [uid] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => sioc:has_creator ) [type] => rel ) [name] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => foaf:name ) ) [comment_count] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => sioc:num_replies ) [datatype] => xsd:integer ) [last_activity] => Array ( [predicates] => Array ( [0] => sioc:last_activity_date ) [datatype] => xsd:dateTime [callback] => date_iso8601 ) ) [path] => Array ( [pathauto] => 1 ) [name] => sysadmin [picture] => 0 [data] => a:2:{s:7:"contact";i:0;s:7:"overlay";i:1;} ) [access] => 1 ) ) ) [field_downloads] => Array ( ) [field_delivering_as_one] => Array ( ) [field_country_entity] => Array ( ) [field_body] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => The objective of this report is to help companies manage the opportunities and risks associated with plastic use. It articulates the business case for companies to improve their measurement, disclosure and management of plastic use in their designs, operations and supply chains. In order to provide a sense of scale, the report sets out to quantify the physical impacts of plastic use translated into monetary terms. This metric can be seen as the current value-at-risk to a company, should these external impacts be realised internally through mechanisms like strengthened regulation, loss of market share, or increased price of raw materials and energy. This metric can also be used to help understand the magnitude of the opportunities, and the tangible benefits to stakeholders, including shareholders, of using plastic in an environmentally sustainable way. [format] => [safe_value] => The objective of this report is to help companies manage the opportunities and risks associated with plastic use. 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