The Alliance was a sponsor of the World Ocean Summit 2019, a global conference on March 5-7 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The event was attended by more than 1,000 representatives of governments, corporations, finance, civil society and academic and scientific experts on ocean issues and the blue economy. The summit was organized by The Economist and convened to build greater collaboration across regions and connect the world to new ideas and perspectives on the future of the ocean.
On the second day of summit, the Financing Plastic Waste Solutions panel was held with members of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and other stakeholders, including Frank Kuijpers, General Manager, Corporate Sustainability, SABIC; Samir Pathak, Director, Corporate Affairs, PepsiCo; Mike Witt, Corporate Director, Plastics Circular Economy, The Dow Chemical Company; Susan Ruffo, Managing Director, International Initiatives, Ocean Conservancy; and April Crow, Circulate Capital.
The panel covered a wide range of subjects relevant to the Alliance’s mission. Susan Ruffo opened with the important point that governments need to be a part of the solution at a national and municipal level. Cities are also a critical part of the solution.
PepsiCo’s Samir Pathak highlighted his company’s continued efforts in the past decade to reduce the impact of plastics on the environment, while also stating that the ultimate aim is for plastic to not be considered waste, but instead a valuable resource. He also said that education and infrastructure have to be priorities for local and national governments in order to achieve the Alliance’s ambitions.
Mike Witt stated that innovation is key to facing the challenges head on, noting that there is technology already available that can help, but this requires support and investment to achieve greater scale. He also pointed out that while 400 million metric tons of plastic is currently produced, this figure will double by 2035, underlining the pertinence of the Alliance.
Frank Kuijpers reiterated the opportunities that will come from the Alliance, also pointing out that of the current plastic and resin production, 20 percent ends up in the environment, which is unsustainable. He explained that through innovation we will soon be able to increase rates of both mechanical and enhanced material recycling.
A spirited discussion followed with challenging questions from the audience. For example, audience members called out that far more than $1.5 billion would be required; that the pace of growth put a premium on fast action just to keep pace; and that alternative financing measures may be required. In each case, the panel agreed and encouraged those interested to work with the Alliance to address those and other questions.