Mirova, the affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers dedicated to sustainable investing, is among the 185 investors with US$10 trillion in combined assets, coordinated by the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO), which are joining forces to call for more action to address the plastics crisis.

In a joint statement, they warn that the whole plastics lifecycle poses a serious and growing threat to the environment, climate, biodiversity, human rights and public health:
  • The estimated costs to society from plastic pollution – including environmental clean-up, ecosystem degradation, shorter life expectancy and medical treatment – exceed US$ 100 billion per year;1
  • More than 170tn plastic particles afloat in oceans;2
  • Over 3,000 potentially harmful chemicals have been identified in food packaging;3
  • Cradle-to-grave greenhouse gas emissions from single-use plastics in 2021 were equivalent to the total annual emissions of the United Kingdom.4
Failing to address these impacts exposes companies to financial risks that threaten value creation and investment returns, given the wave of action to tighten legislation around the world, the increasing number of lawsuits against companies, and potential threat to brand value.
In their statement, investors are calling for intensive users of plastic packaging – such as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and grocery retailers – to act more swiftly to address the plastics crisis by:
  • Significantly reducing material consumption, eliminate single-use packaging and upscale reusable packaging systems. Companies need to show an action plan with clearly defined timescales and make progress reporting subject to external verification.
  • Publicly supporting – rather than lobby against – ambitious policy on plastic reduction including the Global Plastics Treaty and the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which is currently being overhauled.
  • Committing to identifying and eliminating the use of hazardous substances contained in plastics, given the significant risks these pose to human health and related risks to financial value.
“Putting an end to the era of plastic seems to be an almost insurmountable challenge, as these substances are present everywhere in our daily lives. However, we already know the main levers to implement to achieve this, and it is at the level of companies that the opportunities to act are the greatest. Therefore Mirova is making it a priority for sectors that are particularly concerned, through this statement but also in the framework of its engagement dialogue with companies. In addition, this year we will once again strengthen our exclusion policy and, at the same time, continue to invest in companies that provide solutions (de-pollution, circular economy, etc.),” says LOUISE SCHREIBER, Head of Sustainability Research – Listed Assets.
1 Source: Merkl A & Charles D 2022, The Price of Plastic Pollution: Social Costs and Corporate Liabilities, Minderoo Foundation
2 Source: A growing plastic smog, now estimated to be over 170 trillion plastic particles afloat in the world’s oceans – Urgent solutions required, Eriksen M, Cowger W, Erdle LM, Coffin S, Villarrubia-Gómez P, et al. (2023)
3 Source: Birgit Geueke, Ksenia J. Groh, Maricel V. Maffini, Olwenn V. Martin, Justin M. Boucher, Yu-Ting Chiang, Frank Gwosdz, Phoenix Jieh, Christopher D. Kassotis, Paulina Łańska, John Peterson Myers, Alex Odermatt, Lindsey V. Parkinson, Verena N. Schreier, Vanessa Srebny, Lisa Zimmermann, Martin Scheringer & Jane Muncke (2022) Systematic evidence on migrating and extractable food contact chemicals: Most chemicals detected in food contact materials are not listed for use, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
4 Source: Charles D & Kimman L 2023, Plastic Waste Makers Index 2023, Minderoo Foundation

Mirova is an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers.
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