Lausanne, 7 April 2021
Launch of PLASTEAX data platform sheds new light on plastic pollution.
The launch of the PLASTEAX platform was announced today by Swiss-based organization Environmental Action (EA), world-renowned experts on plastic pollution footprinting and a representative within the European Network of Ecodesign Center. The platform will enable transparency on plastic waste management and leakage into the environment, and has been developed to empower all stakeholders working on solving plastic pollution. PLASTEAX discloses both country-level results and polymer-specific plastic waste management data.
To accelerate actions for impact, accurate and transparent plastic waste management data at country and polymer level are needed. The best openly available data currently used to assess plastic waste management are based on average data that are not specific to plastic and are not adapted to local contexts nor to polymer types. In order to enhance the use of the available data, PLASTEAX has been created to amplify plastic-specific data as new tools and plastic-pollution identification methodologies emerge.
“Already, high-quality data from 20 countries are featured on the new platform, PLASTEAX, and the goal is to have data from half of the world’s countries by the end of 2021” noted Julien Boucher, founder of EA, author of 11 reports on plastic pollution, and co-founder of PLASTEAX.
Aware of the urgency to make those data available, PLASTEAX will first be released – thanks to a combination of public, private and citizen funding – with a mixed model of both free and pay-per-access data to cover its development cost.
“It is baffling that in 2021, information about the collection, recycling, waste mismanagement and export and leakage rates of plastic is not readily available in a standardized way, even for developed countries. This lack of knowledge is a major obstacle to moving towards circularity,” said Julien Boucher.
“What cannot be measured cannot be improved; we see a desire from many companies to have access to reliable metrics and reporting frameworks for their plastic use and waste management supporting them in their circularity journey.” comments Cyrille Durand, Circular Plastics & Packaging lead at WBCSD.
Meanwhile, the issue of plastic pollution is very real and worsening every minute. Studies have shown that without action, plastic pollution will triple by 2040, and that all collective pledges will reduce leakages by only 7%. Bold and fast action is crucial. Governments, the private sector, research institutions and civil society will benefit from a plastic pollution database enabling better policymaking.
The methodology* behind the modelling comes from the ‘National Guidance for Plastic Pollution Hotspotting and Shaping Action’ research, authored by EA and sustainability consultancy Quantis, co-developed and maintained by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Research to generate the publicly available reports was piloted in 2019–2020 in 7 countries** with support from IUCN and UNEP.
“As expert in plastic pollution having contributed to methodologies development and plastic pollution quantification, I look forward to joining the scientific committee of PLASTEAX and strengthen the network of scientists, contributing with the previous work built from University of Leeds.” says Dr. Costas Velis, Lecturer in Resource Efficiency Systems at University of Leeds and circular economy expert.
“A key to the wide adoption of the PLASTEAX platform is independent, transparent governance, enabling trusted use by policy-makers, scientists, civil society, the general public and private sector entities,” added Sarah Perreard, co-founder of PLASTEAX. “We hope that it can be hosted by international organizations in the future.”
“Despite improvements in measurement and transparency on plastics use at the level of individual businesses, there remains a clear lack of consistent, publicly available data on recycling rates and other ‘fates’ of different categories of plastic after use. This presents a big challenge for businesses, governments and other organizations who need this data to inform – and measure – the impact of their strategies to move towards a circular economy for plastics. We welcome the efforts, such as PLASTEAX, to address this gap through the development of new publicly accessible data on plastics fate." commented Lily Shepherd, Programme Manager, Strategic Engagements and Measurement in the New Plastics Economy, Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
“Baseline data is lacking, hampering the ability to report and track progress” commented John Duncan, Initiative Lead for No Plastics in Nature at WWF International. “Transparency and disclosure are fundamental to improving accountability from companies and countries alike. Initiatives aimed at improving this can help to lay the groundwork for important instruments such as a global Treaty on Plastic Pollution. In the longer term, this information (on overall plastic use, import, export of waste, production, waste management etc.) should be reported in the same way that carbon emissions are, in a mandatory and publicly accessible way.”
PLASTEAX is an initiative to catalyse change and increase cooperation between all stakeholders within the plastics value chain through better data, transparency, and accountability.
For more information check www.plasteax.org and the FAQ section. A set of recorded webinars are available for registration.
* The methodology is from the “United Nations Environment Programme (2020). National guidance for plastic pollution hotspotting and shaping action - Introduction report. Boucher J.; M. Zgola, et al. United Nations Environment Programme” and is a publicly available methodological framework with calculation modules and tools free for any technical, policy and business users. It was funded by the Norwegian government.
** The results shown for Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand and Viet Nam were from work conducted as part of the IUCN Marine Plastics and Coastal Communities (MARPLASTICCs) and PlastiCoCo projects, through support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Agence Française de Dévelopement (AFD). The results for Menorca and Republic of Cyprus were conducted under the IUCN Plastic Waste Free Island project and funded by the Primat Foundation.
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EA - Environmental Action is a mission driven research consultancy. We design solutions and metrics to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future. EA consists of a team of passionate scientists and change makers. A member of European Network of Ecodesign Centres (ENEC), EA is leading the development of plastic footprint methodologies & data | www.e-a.earth
EA has launched PLASTEAX, the first global database providing high quality polymer & application specific data on plastic waste management and leakage. PLASTEAX is born of the need to provide more transparency in the plastic space | www.plasteax.org