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  • Writer's pictureCristina Tavares

Launch of the 3R Initiative

New plastic waste initiative offers first ever market-based credit scheme in bid to accelerate recovery and recycling

The 3R Initiative brings together NGOs, experts and leading companies Danone, Nestlé, Tetra Pak and Veolia in pioneering “circular economy” business models

LONDON, UK – The 3R Initiative is the first global effort designed to reduce the plastic and packaging footprint of consumer goods companies, producers, retailers and others by standardising their efforts and creating tradable instruments that can scale up reductions via a market-based credit scheme.

Launched today at the Responsible Business Summit, the 3R Initiative works by using a credit scheme to jumpstart the circular economy – incentivising and encouraging corporates to take leadership both within and beyond their value chains to address the plastic waste issue at scale.

The 3R Initiative was founded by Danone, Veolia, Nestlé, Tetra Pak and is led by international standard-setter Verra and environmental market developer BVRio, both non-profit organisations. Conservation International and South Pole contribute as advisors.

A transparent standard for corporate reporting

Public awareness of plastic pollution is growing, and more and more companies are implementing plastic waste reduction activities and engaging in global commitments. Nonetheless, many still find it difficult to upscale their actions and to report to their customers on their progress in a universally accepted format.

The 3R Initiative offers a model that is commercially sustainable, transparent, cost-effective and scalable. One of its components is the 3R Corporate Standard, against which the efforts of corporations to reduce their plastic waste can be independently assessed. It is third-party certified, so companies can use the standard to credibly quantify the impacts of their own efforts and their waste recovery and recycling investments.

“Trusted and independently managed standards will be key to establishing credible market mechanisms to tackle plastic waste at scale. The 3R Initiative will deliver these standards through a robust multi-stakeholder process involving respected companies, NGOs and governments, and extensive public consultations,” declared David Antonioli, CEO of Verra.

The 3R Crediting Mechanism for project activities

Another important component is the 3R Crediting Mechanism, an innovative tool that allows the trading of credits issued by plastic recovery and recycling activities worldwide. It enables companies to go beyond internal actions and support projects in “plastic leakage hotspots” that generate verifiable environmental and social benefits. Companies can buy credits to financially support and accelerate projects that recover and recycle plastics and packaging, thereby contributing to their circularity.

“To solve the problem of plastic pollution, we need market-based solutions that can be used at scale and replicated worldwide. Market instruments such as credits provide the basis for a cost efficient and environmentally sound solution for plastic recovery and recycling.” said Pedro Moura Costa, President of BVRio.

“It’s exciting to be part of creating a much needed scheme to increase plastic recovery and boost recycling rates globally. This innovative 3R mechanism – Reduce, Recover, Recycle – is the brain child of experts coming together, rolling up their sleeves and taking on the challenge of improving collection,” said Mario Abreu, Global Vice President for Sustainability at Tetra Pak. “Developing and funding solutions to mitigate potential leakage into the environment is one of its core aims close to my heart, and supports our Tetra Pak objective of zero cartons to landfill.

“Conservation International is excited to be a part of this important initiative, which will give companies the tools they need to keep plastic out of the environment and world’s oceans while helping countries meet their Sustainable Development Goals,” said Jennifer Morris, President of Conservation International.

Environmental and social benefits

Besides tackling plastic waste, the crediting mechanism also brings direct social benefits. In Brazil, for instance, the mechanism will enable disadvantaged waste pickers to generate additional income and improve their work conditions through the sale of plastic waste recovery credits. In Southeast Asia, 3R credits will unlock new investments in missing waste collection and recycling infrastructure to cut plastic pollution at its source.

More than a dozen initial pilots of potential credit-issuing projects, targeting different types of plastics and packaging and recovery activities, will be developed in the coming years in Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

“To date, there has been too little investment in waste recovery and recycling efforts, especially in the developing world where support is most needed,” said Moura Costa. “The 3R Initiative offers corporations the possibility of demonstrating to the public that they are willing and able to fight plastic pollution, with the goal of transforming unsustainable business models into truly circular operating systems.”



About the 3R Initiative

The 3R Initiative (, named for its objectives of reducing plastic waste, recovering plastic from the environment and increasing recycling rates, aims to: (1) catalyse responsible design, use and recovery of packaging materials; (2) support companies in reducing their plastic waste footprints and mitigating potential leakage into the environment; and, (3) stimulate the development of new plastic recovery and recycling projects around the world. The 3R Initiative will start by focusing on plastic packaging and over time will cover a wider range of recyclable materials to meet environmental and market needs. The 3R Standard for Corporate Accounting will enable companies to robustly assess and report on their plastic waste footprints, and to communicate credible mitigation actions. This will be complemented by the 3R Standard for Project Accounting, which will establish the rules and methodologies to quantify and account for the removal and/or recycling of waste, incorporate social safeguards to protect waste collectors, and set out a verification system using third-party auditors.

About BVRio

BVRio Institute ( is a non-profit association created in 2011 with the objective to develop market mechanisms to facilitate compliance with environmental laws. One of such mechanisms is a Reverse Logistics Credits system developed to promote the recovery and recycling of waste materials, involving more than 7000 individual waste collectors, which was used by companies to reduce their packaging waste footprints. BVRio was created in partnership with the Secretariats of Environment and Finance of Rio de Janeiro’s state and municipal government, and has a governance structure that includes, among others, representatives of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Brazil (CEBDS), Brazilian Foundation for Sustainable Development (FBDS), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and Instituto Pereira Passos of urban planning. Originally focused on Brazil, today BVRio extended its presence in Ghana, Indonesia, China, UK and Switzerland.

About Verra

Verra ( is a Washington, DC-based non-profit organisation that manages standards for reducing GHG emissions, improving livelihoods and protecting natural resources. A mission-driven organisation, Verra manages a number of global standards frameworks, including theVerified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program, the preeminent standard used by the voluntary carbon market with 1,400 registered projects in 80 countries, and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards. In addition, Verra manages the Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ framework (JNR) and the Verra California Offset Project Registry (OPR) and the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta). Verra is also a leading partner in LandScale, which supports sustainable production models across agricultural landscapes; the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), which aims to support transparent and effective reporting on the impacts of climate policies and actions; and the 3R Initiative, which is developing a market mechanism to tackle plastic waste around the globe.


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