Minderoo Foundation, the global philanthropic organisation chaired by Andrew Forrest, has committed $US300 million ($442 million) to help end plastic waste worldwide.
The initiative, which is called Sea the Future, will make fossil fuel-based plastics more expensive to produce, more valuable to collect and tip the scales in favour of plastics reuse.
Sea the Future is backed by governments, non-profit organisations and major companies. It was launched at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Wednesday.
Under the initiative, plastics produced from fossil fuels, unlike recycled plastics, will attract a voluntary contribution payable. This will drive demand that dominoes through the value chain and turns plastic waste into a cashable commodity, according to Minderoo.
The foundation stated current efforts to stem the increase in global plastic waste were “disjointed” and “inadequate”.
This is evidenced by the 350 million-plus tonnes of plastic produced every year, mostly entering the world’s terrestrial and marine environment.
“Industry, full supported by governments and regulators, is the only sector that can drive the urgent, global shift needed to save our oceans from plastic waste,” Forrest said.
“This existential threat requires a global solution able to transcend borders, politics and corporate responsibility. We have less than five years to make this happen. Only a broadly adopted, international industry-led approach will keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment.”
Forrest urges global industries to treat plastic like other commodities, thereby eliminating the price disparity between fossil fuel plastic and recycled plastic.
The funds raised by Sea the Future are projected to amount to at least $US20 billion a year. This will go into global recycling, collection and environmental remediation.
Best estimates suggest plastic costs humanity over $US2.2 trillion a year in environmental and social damage, according to Minderoo.
Sea the Future is supported by The Coca Cola Company, Walmart Inc, Unilever and India’s largest plastics group, Reliance Industries, to name a few.
“Andrew Forrest and the entire Minderoo team are to be commended for taking a leadership position and deploying their resources to getting everyone to do what’s right, and in so doing, give these valuable materials so essential to modern life on our fragile planet a sustainable future,” The Dow Chemical Company former chairman and chief executive Andrew Liveris said.