In a groundbreaking study released on Wednesday, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation revealed that the widespread adoption of reusable plastic packaging can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an impressive 69%. The study, conducted in collaboration with UK-based sustainable business firm Systemiq and environmental consultancy Eunomia, involved over 60 organizations, including national governments and major consumer goods companies like Danone, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever.
The findings highlight that embracing return and reuse systems substantially reduces companies’ emissions and can lead to cost savings for various products. The study emphasized the need for a systemic shift to combat and reverse plastic waste across beverages, personal care, fresh food, and cupboard items.
The study, published on Wednesday, revealed that reusable plastic can reduce plastic emissions by upto 69%. In the most ambitious scenario, ‘System Change,’ the study proposed that reuse schemes could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an impressive 35% to 69%, lower water usage by 45% to 70%, and decrease material usage by 45% to 76%.
Deposit schemes, especially those offering financial incentives, were identified as key drivers to achieve these ambitious targets by encouraging high return rates. For instance, the study suggested that receiving 20 euro cents for returning packaging could make returnable beverage and personal care bottles more cost-effective than single-use alternatives.
However, the research underscored the importance of shared collection infrastructures, standardized packaging, and pooling efforts among multiple players to attain high return rates and make reuse schemes economically competitive. Reusable plastic can reduce plastic emissions by upto 69%, offering a promising avenue for achieving significant environmental benefits.
As global efforts to address plastic pollution face challenges, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s study calls for urgent action from policymakers and business leaders in the fast-moving consumer goods sectors. The focus is transforming practices to usher in a circular economy that significantly curtails plastic waste and fosters sustainability.