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Translating Plastic Commitments into Measurable Action  

In order to understand how to increase the circularity of their plastic use and to identify how to use plastic credits, it is important that companies credibly, consistently, and transparently quantify and report their plastic footprint (including plastic waste). To provide guidance in the process, the 3R Initiative, EA, South Pole and Quantis developed the Guidelines for Corporate Plastic Stewardship. 

These Guidelines are the first integrated framework to comprise combined best practices for standardised accounting and reporting of plastic footprints, footprint mitigation methods and commitments to reducing plastic waste and achieving circularity.

The Guidelines set out a vision that companies will assess their plastic footprint and identify actions within their value chains (e.g. by designing materials for recyclability and reuse and increasing recycled content) to reduce this footprint. In addition, companies will increase collection efforts to keep material in plastic value chains. They may invest beyond their value chains – through extended producer responsibility schemes and plastic credits – to address the plastic waste they cannot yet eliminate.

The 3RI supports use of plastic credits certified to the Plastic Waste Reduction Standard as a credible way to compensate for plastic pollution. However, footprint mitigation of this type must occur in the context of a comprehensive plastic stewardship program. Plastic credits can complement a company’s own activities to enable the company to achieve any of the three leadership commitments set out in the Guidelines: Net Zero Leakage, Net 100% Recycled at End-of-Life and Net Circular Plastic. To learn more, download the Guidelines below.

The 3RI, EA, South Pole and Quantis consulted with a broad range of organisations in the plastic waste and circularity space, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, IUCN, UNEP, WBCSD, WWF and multiple corporates in the development of these Guidelines. We are grateful for their contributions. A draft version underwent public consultation in October 2020. The consultation version and responses to the over 150 comments received are below.


This work was supported by 3RI members and EIT Climate-KIC.

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