In today’s world of overhype and hashtags, few themes have been as dominant over the past two years in materials and consumer products as sustainability and the circular economy. While there have been numerous contributing factors, from impending regulations to vivid images of the impact of waste plastic in the oceans, much of the conversation has been driven by the work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and its New Plastics Economy program to reduce plastic waste. Although the foundation now has hundreds of partner companies, the majority of interest started in January 2018, when 11 companies – Amcor, Ecover, Danone, L’Oréal, Mars, M&S, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Walmart, and Werner & Mertz – joined the foundation to move toward 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable packing by 2025. Shortly thereafter, two other major players, Nestlé and Colgate-Palmolive, partnered with the foundation, bringing the total plastic packaging used by these companies to an estimated 11 million tpa. Given that we are one year closer to the 2025 target, how close are these companies to accomplishing their goals? In this report, we set out to evaluate the likelihood of these goals being achieved by examining the technologies these brands are involved with, the other technologies being developed to help accomplish these goals, and the expected scale-up of these innovations.
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