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Industry Insight

Plastic Disclosure Project to Debut Next Month

Inspired by the Carbon Disclosure Project,

By Richard Romano
Published: August 16, 2011

Inspired by the Carbon Disclosure Project, an initiative through which 3,000 companies and other organizations around the world measure and disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and climate change strategies, Hong Kong-based environmental entrepreneur Doug Woodring is launching the new Plastic Disclosure Project. Like its forebear, the Plastic Disclosure Project is intended to get companies to give serious thought to how much plastic they use—and come up with ways of reducing it. Says the PDP’s Web site:
Just as carbon footprint calculations are commonplace today, both among industry and individuals alike, the Plastic Disclosure Project will bring about the notion of “Plastic Footprints” which will have a wide ranging impact on improved resource use. Investors and shareholders will better understand what type of liabilities might exist from a brand value and corporate operations point of view if socially responsible use of the material is not practiced.
The PDP was announced last year and is set to officially launch in September 2011. Although a lot of attention has been paid to GHGs in the wake of climate change, plastic—while superficially on people’s radar—presents no small amount of environmental problems. Says the New York Times:
About 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year. Only about 10 percent of that is recycled. Of the plastic that is simply trashed, an estimated seven million tons ends up in the sea each year. There, it breaks down into smaller and smaller fragments over the years. The tinier the pieces, the more easily they are swallowed by marine life. (One study found that fish in the North Pacific ingest as much as 24,000 tons of plastic debris a year). Because much of the disintegrating mass is no longer in the form of solid chunks, it is hard to scoop it out once it gets into the ocean. And because no single nation or authority bears responsibility for the oceans, cleanup and prevention are largely left to nongovernmental organizations.
Thus one of the PDP’s primary aims is to help keep plastic from getting into the environment. “What we’re trying to do is to have companies manage and use plastic much more wisely, and to receive recognition for doing so from both customers and investors,” Woodring told the Times.
“Once you’ve taken an inventory of your use for the first time, it’s easy to improve on it,” he adds. “It’s not necessarily painful.”

Please offer your feedback to Richard. He can be reached at richard@whattheythink.com.



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