IN DEPTH: WWF Circular Economy Initiative of Cascading Material Flows

The World Wildlife Fund has launched the Cascading Materials Vision, a circular economy platform that seeks to enable a global system of efficient materials management,

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The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched the Cascading Materials Vision, a circular economy platform that seeks to enable a global system of efficient materials management, creating markets that better the re-use of materials to reduce waste.

Grounded in a framework of guiding principles, WWF explained that the Cascading Materials Vision convenes industry and other stakeholders to help every business and industry source secondary materials, those that have already been used at least once in some form, to protect their profits, the environment and the future wealth of our natural resources.

According to the organisation, as global population rises, we face both resource scarcity, which affects our ability to produce goods, and increased waste disposal, which negatively impacts ecosystems and communities.

Both challenges could be eased by the increased use of secondary materials. Businesses want to be part of the solution and use more secondary materials, but systematic barriers make acquisition and sourcing difficult at the quantity and quality needed.

WWF said that through alignment and collaboration, the Cascading Materials Vision will engage stakeholders across both private and public sectors to minimise such barriers.

The companies and organisations that sign onto the Cascading Materials Vision, which so far includes names such as The Coca-Cola Company, agree to abide by a set of guiding principles for decision making that align materials management practices, allow for greater collaboration across industry and create easier sourcing of secondary materials.

These principles range from systems thinking to evaluate the environmental impact of implementing solutions that work for today but can adapt to the future.

By aligning with stakeholders and collaborators around a common vision of a responsible future, WWF hopes to use this framework to influence relevant sectors toward achievable, sustainable and inclusive solutions that address the systemic issues that prevent creation, trade and use of secondary materials.

Businesses and organisations that have already signed on include: American Chemistry Council, AMERIPEN, Ball Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company, DuPont, European Bioplastic Association, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., The Materials Leadership Council (MLC), McCormick, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Ocean Conservancy, Pathway21, The Recycling Partnership, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Target.

WWF said that the initiative marks just the beginning and the flagship companies and nonprofit organistions that have signed onto the Cascading Materials Vision are eager to grow the platform and to create a reliable and innovative network grounded in maximising environmental and social benefit and measuring impact.

Erin Simon, deputy director, packaging and material science at WWF: “We can quite literally do more with less simply by using materials more than once. With clear interest and willingness from industry to embrace this concept, WWF saw an incredible and imperative need to act.

“By bringing stakeholders together onto one cohesive platform, the Cascading Materials Vision will help reduce the burden on our natural systems and enable creation of the global markets needed to make quality secondary materials accessible and reliable.

“We are inspired by the number of companies who have already spoken up about the need for a global market of secondary materials. “With some of the world’s largest and leading companies already committed to the Cascading Materials Vision, we’re confident that this platform will create the catalyst needed to jumpstart the secondary materials market, protect our natural resources and meet the production demands of our growing population.”

Cal Dooley, President and CEO, American Chemistry Council: “We commend World Wildlife Fund for its vision and engagement with industry and policy leaders to promote and expand materials reuse and the availability of high-quality secondary materials.

Through this collaborative framework, ACC and its member companies look forward to working with stakeholders along the value chain to more efficiently use resources to reduce the environmental impacts of our operations and products, and to pursue initiatives that conserve materials and resources, and reduce waste through reuse and recycling.”

Nicholas Mallos, Director, Trash Free Seas Program, Ocean Conservancy: “Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest challenges, including the threats posed by marine debris.

“Scientists estimate that 80% of plastic waste entering the ocean starts on land, so we need to think about locally appropriate and resilient land-based solutions to address this issue.

“The Cascading Materials Vision outlines critical principles to help drive better waste management, which will not only keep trash out of the marine environment, but would help extend the use-life and inherent value of materials.”

Keefe Harrison, CEO, The Recycling Partnership: “While recycling feels universal, the truth is only half of Americans can recycle at home as easily as they can throw something away.

That inequality means that valuable materials are disposed, resulting in significant losses in potential GHG and water savings, at the same time depriving manufacturers across the globe of clean feedstock.

The Recycling Partnership is pleased to collaborate with WWF in this far-reaching initiative to build a better system.”

Lee Anderson, President, AMERIPEN: “The Vision includes many of the philosophies upon which our organisation is based, including science-based decision making, a systems approach, effective policies, and adaptability. We’re looking forward to helping deliver the progress needed to achieve it.”

John A. Hayes, Chairman, President and CEO Ball Corporation: “Ball manufactures billions of 100% and infinitely recyclable metal packages each year and we are working to maximise the recovery of these packages around the world.

We’re proud to be a part of the World Wildlife Fund’s Cascading Materials Vision, as it will allow us to work with other stakeholders to ensure that metal packaging, which is the most economically and environmentally sustainable of all packaging substrates, is collected and available to be reused for future generations to come.”

John Linc Stine, The Materials Leadership Council (MLC), Member; Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), President; and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Commissioner: “The Materials Leadership Council (MLC), a public-private partnership among state environmental commissioners and senior business representatives, praises the release of WWF’s Cascading Materials Vision.

“States have a longstanding commitment to advancing SMM principals and their collaboration with businesses enables greater leverage to achieve resource efficiency while creating economic, environmental, and societal benefits.”

Michael Okoroafor, Vice President – Global Sustainability and Packaging Innovation McCormick and Company, Inc.: “WWF’s principles align closely with our 4R Framework (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Renew), and is reflective of our shared leadership role in creating a more sustainable world for future generations.”

Marco Bernasconi, Global Head of Packaging, Nestlé: “Continually improving the environmental performance of our packaging following a life cycle approach is a key driver in our product and packaging development process.

The guiding principles described in the WWF’s Cascading Materials Vision are therefore fully aligned with Nestlé’s ambition to prevent littering and packaging going to landfill.”

Adam Goldstein, President and Chief Operating Officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.: “As an intermediary between suppliers and consumers we have a responsibility to ensure our supply chain and waste management approaches help us achieve a more sustainable future.”

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