17 November 2021

Has virgin plastic use peaked?

After decades of growth, virgin plastic use by leading global brands has peaked in 2021, according to new research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme.

bottle in sea
© Brian Yurasits/Unsplash

The latest edition of the annual Global Commitment Progress Report reveals that virgin plastic use has peaked for the 63 brand and retail Global Commitment signatories. This trajectory of reduction is accelerating, with virgin plastic use set to fall by almost 20% in absolute terms by 2025 compared to 2018. The change has largely been driven by recycling.

However, less than 2% of signatories’ plastic packaging is reusable, and for more than half of all signatories, this is 0%.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder & Chair of Trustees of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said, ‘We need much more urgent focus on upstream innovation to rethink how to deliver products without packaging or by using reusable packaging. This doesn’t just allow us to design out waste, it also means we can design out carbon emissions whilst creating new opportunities for business.’

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