INSIGHT by CDP
〉From today, nearly 7,000 companies worldwide can respond to request from more than 740 investors with US$136 trillion in assets to disclose plastic-related impacts for the first time through CDP, the global environmental disclosure platform.
〉Companies have been asked to disclose on the most problematic plastics production and use: plastic polymers, durable plastics, and plastics packaging.
〉High-impact sectors requested include fossil fuel, food and beverage, fashion brands, waste and packaging.
〉In 2022 several large companies including Amazon, ExxonMobil and McDonalds faced shareholder petitions asking for more disclosures on efforts to reduce plastic waste.
〉First time disclosure comes as the Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution is negotiated, to which corporate action (and understanding of environmental impacts) will be critical.
Nearly 7,000 (6,743) companies can, from today, disclose their plastic-related impacts for the first time, as CDP’s global environmental disclosure platform opens for 2023 reporting. Through CDP’s online disclosure platform, companies will disclose information on the production and use of the most problematic plastics, i.e., plastic polymers, durable plastics, and plastic packaging  and this data, where publicly disclosed, will be made available from September. High-impact plastic sectors invited to disclose include:
〉Chemicals: 100 petrochemical companies produce 90% of all single-use plastic waste generated globally
〉Fashion / apparel: Many apparel companies have been slow to transition to recycled materials – for some online stores just 1% of items contain recycled materials
〉Food and beverage: Plastic packaging for food and beverage products is
〉a major source of pollution
〉Fossil fuels: about 4% of annual total use of oil and gas globally is for plastic production
〉Packaging: Packaging was one of the largest applications of plastics globally in 2021, using 44% of all plastics
Companies and investors face significant financial, physical, legal, technological, regulatory and reputational risks as a result of the plastic pollution crisis. As regulation is implemented, companies face US$100 billion annual financial risk if governments require them to cover waste management costs at expected volumes and recyclability; investments in petrochemicals and plastics worth about US$400 billion are at risk of becoming stranded assets; and near-term exposures (2022-30) to corporate liabilities from plastic-related pollution are material and likely to exceed US$20 billion.
But the private sector can also be the key to turning the crisis around. The decisions these companies take in the next decade relating to their dependence on plastic production, use and disposal will make or break our ability to deliver a thriving economy that works for people and planet. Enabling the creation, collection and distribution of relevant data is a vital first step.
“The scale of the plastic pollution crisis is no secret, so it’s not good enough that many companies, investors and policymakers still lack the robust data needed to drive the rapid transformation we desperately need. To be able to act effectively, companies must develop a robust understanding of how they contribute to the plastic pollution crisis and formulate equitable and just transition plans to address this. In turn, investors and policymakers need access to relevant, comprehensive and comparable data across the global economy on which to make better decisions.
“As mandatory environmental disclosure gathers momentum, we encourage governments to include plastics in their mandatory disclosure regimes. However, ahead of future policy developments, CDP is pleased that our system – through which more than 18,700 companies worth half of global market capitalization already disclose – can accelerate plastic-related disclosure and access to data at scale: this will be the foundation of transformative action to end plastic pollution and waste. I urge all companies to disclose on plastics, and CDP stands ready to support you on your journey to do so.”
-Cate Lamb, Global Director for Water Security at CDP
Investors have started to demand that companies disclose plastic-related data. In 2022, six companies — including Amazon, ExxonMobil and McDonald’s  — faced shareholder petitions asking for more disclosures on efforts to reduce plastic, according to regulatory disclosures. And in December 2022, 55 financial institutions, including CDP signatories Cardano ACTIAM, Boston Common Asset Management, Triodos Investment Management and Robeco, formed a Plastic Solutions Investor Alliance to engage publicly traded companies on the threat posed by plastic pollution. Responding to a CDP plastics consultation, 81% of responding capital markets and supply chain members said that the information requested by CDP on plastics would be useful to inform financial or procurement decisions.
“Investors have a critical role to play in addressing the plastics problem. Not only do plastics pose an existential threat to our planet, but they present serious regulatory, financial, and reputational risks to companies that fail to take responsibility for their plastic waste. By engaging with companies to ensure they adequately address plastics-related risks, investors can protect shareholder value and help catalyze a circular economy where nothing we use for five minutes pollutes our environment for centuries.”
-Annie Sanders, Director of Shareholder Advocacy at Green Century Capital Management
Companies will disclose as negotiations continue on the landmark UN Plastics Treaty. Corporate action – and data to track it – will be crucial to its implementation. CDP’s plastics questions build on existing frameworks including those designed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNEP’S Global Commitment Framework. CDP is working on its expansion to plastics with expertise and support from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts and Minderoo Foundation.
CDP is a global non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions. Founded in 2000 and working with more than 740 financial institutions with over $130 trillion in assets, CDP pioneered using capital markets and corporate procurement to motivate companies to disclose their environmental impacts, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Nearly 20,000 organizations around the world disclosed data through CDP in 2022, including more than 18,700 companies worth half of global market capitalization, and over 1,100 cities, states and regions. Fully TCFD aligned, CDP holds the largest environmental database in the world, and CDP scores are widely used to drive investment and procurement decisions towards a zero carbon, sustainable and resilient economy.
| All opinions expressed are those of the author and/or quoted sources. investESG.eu is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around ESG investing topics.