A group of nearly 30 international investors is urging governments to “maintain ambition” when it comes to creating a legally binding treaty on plastic pollution.
Coordinated by the Dutch Association of Sustainable Investors (VBDO), the group has sent a letter to members of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution governments, which have a shared ambition to end plastic pollution by 2040, asking them to form a robust and effective Global Plastic Treaty as they head into the third round of discussions on 13 November this year.
The letter reads: “We write to you to…ask that the members of the High Ambition Coalition maintain a harmonised high level of ambition.
“In our role as investors, we emphasise the importance of a legally binding, harmonised treaty establishing global measures to provide companies with a level playing field, reduce operational complexity and compliance risk across markets, and crucially, provide the regulatory certainty that companies require to confidently invest in effective measures to reduce their environmental impact and thus appropriately manage the financial risks to which they and their investors are exposed.”
Nordea Asset Management, Cardano, CCLA Investment Management, Green Century Funds and Legal & General Investment Management are among the signatories who have flagged the growing volumes of plastic produced at source, and growing interest from companies and investors in new delivery models to reduce plastic packaging, including reuse, emphasising the need for robust framework to mobilise capital towards these solutions.
The UN Environment Programme published the first draft of the treaty in September this year, which includes a comprehensive set of solutions but also, according to WWF, a variety of weaker options.
“The Global Plastics Treaty is a decisive and historic opportunity to address the plastics crisis,” said Angélique Laskewitz, executive director of VBDO.
“A strong and robust regulatory framework is needed, for which both governments and companies need to show their support. Only when effective measures to reduce environmental impact are in place, can financial risks be appropriately managed to which companies and their investors are exposed.”
In May, Achmea IM, AXA IM and Sarasin & Partners were among 185 investors with $10trn that sent a joint statement to companies calling on them to do more to tackle plastic waste.
The statement, which was directed at the consumer goods and grocery retail sectors including companies such as Nestlé and Coca-Cola, set out how this can be done through reducing dependence on single-use plastic packaging, and working to bring production and consumption of plastics within the limits of the planetary boundaries and alignment with the Paris Agreement and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
The statement also called for companies to publicly support – rather than lobby against – ambitious policy on plastic reduction including the Global Plastics Treaty.
“The Global Plastics Treaty offers a unique and historic opportunity to tackle the problem at the source – we need companies supporting its ambition on prevention and reuse, not lobby against it. It’s their chance to be part of the solution,” Arthur van Mansvelt, senior engagement specialist at Achmea IM, said at the time.
Today’s letter highlights the interest in plastic reduction from companies but warns of the mounting financial risk for companies failing to reduce their dependence on single-use plastics.
Tessa Younger, stewardship lead environment at CCLA Investment Management, said: “We therefore emphasise the importance of including upstream measures addressing plastic pollution in the treaty to reduce plastic pollution at source and achieve climate goals.”