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Unilever CEO Advocates Urgent Global Action on Plastic Pollution

Unilever CEO on Plastic pollution

Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher emphasizes the need for ambitious, coordinated policy measures to address the escalating issue of plastic pollution. In a blog post ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting, Schumacher argues that voluntary corporate action alone is insufficient to combat the crisis and calls for a legally binding global treaty to regulate the entire plastic life cycle.

Unilever’s contribution

Schumacher acknowledges Unilever’s recognition of its role in the problem, particularly in contributing to global plastic waste through its packaging. He highlights the inadequacy of voluntary initiatives, such as those with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme, in solving the plastic pollution challenge on a large scale.

Take, Make, Dispose

The blog stresses the urgency of taking immediate steps to end plastic pollution, considering that the current linear plastic life cycle of “take, make, dispose” has led to a doubling of plastic production and waste between 2000 and 2019. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data indicates that plastic waste production is set to triple by 2060, with alarming consequences for the environment and climate goals.

Unilever, alongside other businesses, has been part of voluntary initiatives that, while showing positive outcomes, have fallen short of the scale needed to address the plastic pollution challenge comprehensively. Schumacher argues that stronger and harmonized regulations are crucial to eliminate plastic waste and pollution effectively.

Global Plastics Treaty

To support this call for regulation, Unilever has played a role in establishing the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty. This coalition aims to give confidence to member state negotiators in favor of a treaty by demonstrating that businesses and financial institutions recognize the importance of regulation to combat plastic pollution.

The CEO stresses that a legally binding treaty presents a critical opportunity to avoid disjointed national efforts and create a level playing field in the global economy. The Business Coalition is advocating for a treaty that focuses on reducing, circulating, and preventing plastic waste across the entire plastics value chain.

No Plastic World

Schumacher concludes by urging businesses and organizations to join the coalition, emphasizing that a shared voice is essential for pushing forward the vision of a comprehensive global treaty. The World Economic Forum annual meeting is identified as a pivotal platform for these discussions, presenting a once-in-a-generation chance to address the plastic pollution problem collectively.

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