In the past few years, many global brand giants have announced environmental policies as their key business imperatives in response to greater awareness among consumers of various environmental issues, from land and marine waste management to resource shortage and global warming. Apart from private businesses, a number of governments around the world have also declared them urgent issues and introduced regulations or laws that would enable them to achieving their goals of solving these problems.
United Kingdom – Plastic packaging tax
An example of a stringent and tangible initiative is the UK’s introduction of a new plastic packaging tax. Plastic packaging imported into or produced in the UK must contain at least 30 percent recycled plastic to avoid a levy of GBP 200 per tonne.
The primary objective of this new tax is to create an ecosystem of businesses that use recycled plastic in packaging production while also increasing consumer demand, which will in turn motivate plastic manufacturers to adjust their production and plastic waste management to ensure efficient recycling. This regulation, which was first studied in 2017 and drafted in mid-2019, will come into effect in April 2022.
European Union – Recycled material in bottle production
The EU has also rolled out various initiatives to foster a circular economy within the region, the first of which was the Single-Use Plastics Directive, aimed at reducing the use of non-essential everyday plastic products, such as cutlery, plates, straws, beverage stirrers, cotton bud sticks, and sticks for balloons.
In addition, the EU has introduced a policy focusing on plastic bottle design and sorting, covering the entire cycle from production to disposal, as well as set targets to increase the amount of recycled material in PET bottles to 25% by 2025 and to 30% for all bottle types by 2030.
European Circular Plastics Alliance
While governments are becoming more active, private plastic businesses in the EU are also coming together. First established in 2018, the European Circular Plastics Alliance now comprises over 175 organizations from every part of the production chain and has set a target to boost the EU market for recycled plastic to 10 million tons by 2025. While not enforced as law, the pledge reflects the active cooperation of all parties involved to take action seriously.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Another example of a collaboration between international giants is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), a non-profit organization that plays a key role in creating a circular economy and enlists over 500 businesses and plastic manufacturers from the around the world to set environmental policies and targets on the global level. As they represent over 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally, these signatories have a great capacity to effectively drive the adoption of a circular economy.
As Thailand’s only leading corporation to join the EMF, SCG has learned about a circular economy from its representatives and member organizations and introduced circular economy concepts and practices under the umbrella of SCG Circular Way through various projects and activities, marking a good beginning for the development of new knowledge and the expansion of circular economy networks on the international levels.
As government and private sectors around the world are actively undertaking initiatives to tackle plastic problems, in Thailand, a new Environmental Act that will address the issue of plastic waste management and plastic taxes is being drafted. It is thus necessary for plastic-related businesses to come together and begin a shift towards the global trend of circularity so as to operate a business that promotes environmental sustainability at the same time.