Funds and companies for a plastic-free future

One million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, says Louie French, manager, Tilney Sustainable MPS.

The world’s reliance on plastics, particularly single use plastics, has become a key target for environmental activists in recent years. And for good reason. Around the world one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while five trillion single use plastic bags are used every year, according to the UNEP.

Plastic Free July is a global movement encouraging individuals to refuse single use plastics to contribute towards having clear streets, plastic-free oceans and a clean environment. 

As investors there are ways we can both support the reduction of single-use plastics and the movement towards a more circular economy, while also delivering attractive returns for clients.

One example is the Stewart Investors Global Emerging Markets Sustainability Fund, which we hold in our sustainable portfolios. The fund seeks to benefit from and commit to firms that aid the sustainable development of the countries they operate in. This includes companies that are focused on reducing plastic pollution in emerging markets and developing Asia, which is a vitally important goal, given new research from The Ocean Cleanup suggests around 1,000 of the world’s rivers are the source of 80% of the global ocean plastic pollution.

Company solutions

There are also individual companies making great strides in the fight against single-use plastic dependency.

One of these firms is Tomra Systems – a Norwegian-based company that specialises in recycling and technology-led solutions that enable a more circular economy.

Consumer goods firms, such as Unilever, also have a key role to play in reducing the environmental impact of their products and have set targets to reduce plastic in their packaging. For example, Unilever’s goals and new technologies have already seen the introduction of new recyclable paper-based ice cream tubs and brands such as Dove move to 100% recycled bottles across Europe and North America.

The march towards a plastic-free future is an instrumental part of the fight against climate disaster. But as with other key themes associated with sustainability, it also provides an attractive investment opportunity as the global economy becomes more focused on the practices and initiatives that can help achieve a better future for all.