Responsible Investment

Ocean plastics

2018 saw a significant focus on the issue of ocean plastics, spurred by the airing of Sir David Attenborough’s seminal...
April 2019

Emma Lupton

Senior Associate, Analyst, Responsible Investment

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The value of investments and any income derived from them can go down as well as up as a result of market or currency movements and investors may not get back the original amount invested.

Views and opinions expressed by individual authors do not necessarily represent those of BMO Global Asset Management and should not be considered to be a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any companies that may be mentioned.

Ocean plastics

The Landscape

2018 saw a significant focus on the issue of ocean plastics, spurred by the airing of Sir David Attenborough’s seminal documentary Blue Planet II and the awareness that more than 8mn tonnes of plastic reaches the oceans annually. 

2018 saw a significant focus on the issue of ocean plastics, spurred by the airing of Sir David Attenborough’s seminal documentary Blue Planet II and the awareness that more than 8mn tonnes of plastic reaches the oceans annually. Earth Day, World Environment Day, World Oceans Day and the United Nations Environment Programme all focused on the theme in 2018, further encouraging society, governments and companies to act. Progress in policy has been made, with a commitment from all 193 UN member states to be proactive around domestic solutions for plastic waste. Examples include: the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter (ex US and Japan) and the vote by the EU Parliament to ban a range of single use plastics. These are steps forward, however, the scale of the issue is immense, and the hard work of implementation is yet to come to achieve the goals set.

Our work

In 2018, we engaged with 27 companies on the topic in the food & beverage, and food & staples retail sectors, including The Coca-Cola Company and subsidiaries, Nestlé, Danone, Mondelēz, PepsiCo, Starbucks and YUM! Brands (operator of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell). All companies we have spoken to have seen this issue rise quickly up the agenda and most have plans in place to reduce impacts. More companies are committing to global policy initiatives, such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, supporters of which include the WWF, the World Economic Forum and The Consumer Goods Forum. We have aligned our engagement to this and asked companies to reduce the amount of unnecessary single-use plastic, improve the recyclability of plastic, be creative in packaging redesign, implement circular economy models and improve recycling infrastructure.

Risk Disclaimer

The value of investments and any income derived from them can go down as well as up as a result of market or currency movements and investors may not get back the original amount invested. 

Views and opinions expressed by individual authors do not necessarily represent those of BMO Global Asset Management and should not be considered to be a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any companies that may be mentioned.

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Our engagement also emphasises the opportunity present and we are excited to see innovative packaging materials and technologies emerging. With the rapidity of change in public attitudes towards plastics, manufacturers of alternatives and providers of infrastructure solutions could be examples of stakeholders that can realise a significant business opportunity. Going forward, we will continue engagement on this issue within these sectors, but will also broaden out to companies within the household and personal care sectors, as well as others that are exposed. We want to see commitments where they don’t exist already, but now implementation is key. We will be looking for interim measures as well, to keep building the momentum to act, and will monitor progress.

 


New Plastics Economy Global Commitment2

350+ signatories US$4 trillion AUM endorsing the commitment


1Sarah-Jane Mee interviews Sir David Attenborough for Sky News, June 2018 2

2New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, March 2019

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