Voluntary commitments made by the world's largest companies focus on recycling and packaging over other actions to address the plastics crisis.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Plastic pollution has caused significant environmental and health challenges. Corporations that contribute to the make, use, and distribution of plastics can play a vital role in addressing global plastic pollution and many are committing to voluntary pledges. However, the extent to which corporation voluntary commitments are helping solve the problem remains underexplored. Here we develop a novel typology to characterize voluntary commitments to reduce plastic pollution made between 2015-2020 by 974 companies including the top 300 of the Fortune Global. We find that 72% of these companies have made commitments to reduce plastic pollution. About 67% of companies participating in voluntary environmental programs (VEPs) and 17% of non-VEPs participants made measurable and timebound commitments. However, rather than tackle virgin plastics, most companies target general plastics and frequently emphasize end-of-life controls with a primary focus on recycling. Growing commitments on plastic pollution are made by large and important companies, but significantly more efforts beyond plastic recycling are required to effectively address plastic pollution challenges.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Diana, Z; Reilly, K; Karasik, R; Vegh, T; Wang, Y; Wong, Z; Dunn, L; Blasiak, R; Dunphy-Daly, MM; Rittschof, D; Vermeer, D; Pickle, A; Virdin, J

Published Date

  • November 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 5 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 1286 - 1306

PubMed ID

  • 36465566

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9718439

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2590-3322

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2590-3330

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.oneear.2022.10.008


  • eng