During the opening plenary session, President Bill Clinton formally kicked-off the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP), announcing collaboration with Doug Woodring, one of the co-founders of Project Kaisei, and his project partners ASrIA (The Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia) and HKUST (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) to implement the tracking and reporting of plastics used inside businesses.
The worldwide rollout of PDP will continue at a series of high profile events around the globe. Beginning in New York, NY at the Clinton Global Initiative's Annual meeting, followed by presentations at the Wharton School of Business and the Hong Kong HKUST Business School, the PDP has received the support of leading global asset managers.
PDP will be an annual survey, asked on behalf of the world's investment community, of companies regarding their use of plastic. This will allow managers at both investment firms, as well as within companies themselves, to start thinking about where money can be saved, new designs adopted, and material reductions can take place in order to help improve environmental, waste and health impacts. As with the Carbon Disclosure Project's (CDP) carbon and water initiatives, PDP will contribute to transparency in reporting the corporate use of plastic within operations and supply chains, as well as plastics management and governance.
According to Doug Woodring, co-founder and director of Project Kaisei, "Plastic and other waste in the ocean has caused a large impact on the environment and ecosystem, much of which is only just becoming understood. It can kill marine life, may be entering our food chain, and can have a negative effect on people's health and safety. Global consumption of plastic has outstripped our infrastructure in waste management. It is estimated that over 70% of the plastic and other waste in the ocean enters from land based sources, and this has spurred urgent attention on its environmental impact."
Erik Floyd, Joint Executive Director of ASrIA, said "We are pleased to have been asked to join in launching this important corporate disclosure initiative. During summer 2010, we advised HKUST on a worldwide survey by HKUST MBA students of investors to determine their interest in plastic disclosure by corporates. The student survey found a high level of interest among the investors who replied to the survey. ASrIA has been an operating partner of the Carbon Disclosure Project in Asia for the past five years, and based on that experience we look forward to effectively launching the Plastic Disclosure Project in collaboration with our partners."
Credit Suisse is one of the first participants in the inaugural PDP inquiry, and has expressed commitment to include plastic related strategies and issues as part of their comprehensive analysis of the environmental and social impacts of portfolio companies. Fund managers will leverage the comprehensive database of plastic use and disposal implementations that will be a core part of the PDP. "As an incredibly versatile material, plastic is ubiquitous, but its improper disposal also makes it a major contributor to coastal zone and marine pollution," said Ben Ridley, Head of Sustainability Affairs at Credit Suisse/Asia. "The PDP can help get the issue onto the business radar and is a reminder of everyone's responsibility to reduce, reuse and recycle."
Plastic's Environmental Impact
There are growing indications that the cumulative effect of plastic use as a common business component is having increasingly harmful environmental impacts. Recent studies include the following data:
- More than 7 million tons of garbage reaches the marine environment every year according to the UNEP.
- Most plastic is not biodegradable, and the decomposition of many types of plastic can take hundreds of years.
- It is estimated that less than 15% of plastic gets recycled.