Climate Action

​New data shows majority of companies are overlooking plastic-related risks

Thousands of companies are behind on key steps to tackle plastic pollution in their value chains, according to landmark data released by CDP.

  • 09 April 2024
  • Press Release

Thousands of companies are behind on key steps to tackle plastic pollution in their value chains, according to landmark data released by CDP.

The data reveals, for the first time, the extent of companies’ awareness of their contribution to the plastic crisis, and presents a strong baseline for accelerating action at the fourth round of Global Plastics Treaty negotiations (INC-4) later this month, where mandatory corporate disclosure is on the table.

Findings show that almost half (42%) of companies took the vital first step of mapping where plastics were produced and used within their value chains in 2023. However, there are significant gaps in corporate understanding and action:

  • Only 21% of companies were aware of risks associated with their plastic-related activities, however
  • 70% of companies have not yet mapped the impacts of their plastic-related activities on the environment and human health; and
  • 64% have not yet set targets for managing their plastic-related impacts, such as the use of plastic products and waste management practices.

These findings come from the disclosures of nearly 3,000 companies in 2023, spanning all regions and sectors, many of which have significant plastic-related impacts, including food and beverage, retail, and apparel.

These high-impact companies are very likely to face tangible risks as a result, including supply chain disruptions, waste management fees, and regulatory risks, with more than half of G20 countries already having introduced plastic-related legislation.

Encouragingly, of companies not yet taking action, around half plan to map their impacts and set targets within the next two years.

Greater visibility of plastic footprints, gained through consistent corporate data disclosure, will support companies to build strategies reduce their use of plastics and the pollution associated with it. Governments can accelerate this by including mandatory corporate disclosure on plastics in the Global Plastics Treaty being negotiated in Ottawa later this month.

CDP’s Head of Sustainable Business, Nathan Cole, said: “The fact that 3,000 companies disclosed voluntarily on plastics in this pilot year is an incredibly positive first step. Our findings show how much actionable data on plastics is needed. Not just to rapidly boost corporate progress and translate awareness into action, but to assess our global progress toward reducing plastic pollution and its impacts."

"Governments must seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and create the enabling environment companies need by agreeing an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty, with mandatory corporate disclosure as a core element. As plastic use continues to rapidly increase, our time to effectively limit its most dangerous impacts shrinks. We must accelerate action on plastics urgently by making plastics disclosure mandatory.”

CDP’s expansion to plastics disclosure is in partnership The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Minderoo Foundation and WWF.

Find out more here.