The idea that plastics are valuable materials that should be used—not thrown away—is one of the central themes of an organization that has NOVA Chemicals as one of its founding members, funded with $1 billion (USD).
The organization, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, includes 30 companies and will operate as a standalone, not-for-profit organization. Its members are involved with the production, use, processing, collection and recycling of plastics. Included in the membership are waste management companies.
John Thayer, senior vice president of Polyethylene with NOVA, said the idea for the initiative first emerged at a meeting of the American Chemistry Council.
“Representatives of companies across the value chain were part of the dialogue around what could be done,” he said. “The industry has come to the point where we know we have really good products but they don’t belong in the environment.”
Thayer takes the point a step further.
“Plastics are valuable materials that make our modern lives healthier, easier and safer. We also recognize the need to work toward the creation of a circular plastics economy that reduces waste and encourages reuse, recycling and regeneration.”
Thayer said NOVA also remains committed to the communities where it operates, including Sarnia-Lambton.
An indication of how broad-based the support of the work to be done is that the first chair of the organization will be David Taylor, CEO of Procter & Gamble.
The Alliance will work with governments, institutions, companies, non-government organizations and communities to support investments and programs to help eliminate plastic waste in the environment and drive progress in four key areas:
—Infrastructure development to manage waste and increase recycling;
—Innovation to develop and bring to scale new materials and product designs that minimize waste and new recycling technologies that create value from all post-use plastics;
—Education and engagement of governments at all levels, communities, businesses and even individuals; and
—Clean up of concentrated areas of waste in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste that carry land-based waste to waterways.
Thayer, who works out of NOVA’s headquarters in Pittsburgh, said the company’s contribution to the effort will be in the millions over at least a five-year commitment.
While similar to Project STOP, an initiative designed to prevent plastic from reaching the ocean, Thayer said the latest initiative is “yet another way we are committed to being a responsible global citizen.”