Nearly 30 companies from the plastics and consumer goods sector pledged more than $1 billion over the next five years to develop and bring to scale approaches minimize and manage plastic waste, and promote solutions for used plastics by helping to enable a "circular economy."

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) said that it hopes to raise another $500 million for the initiative.

David Taylor, chairman, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble, will serve as chairman of the AEPW, which is focused on eliminating plastic contamination from the world's oceans.

The not-for-profit organization includes companies that make, use, sell, process, collect and recycle plastics. This includes chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters and waste management companies, also known as the plastics value chain.

An initial set of projects includes:

  • Partnering with cities to design integrated waste management systems in large urban areas where infrastructure is lacking, especially those along rivers which transport discarded plastic waste from land to the ocean. The AEPW will also be looking to collaborate with other programs, such as Project STOP in Indonesia.
  • Funding an incubator network created by Circulate Capital which develops and promotes technologies, business models and entrepreneurs working to prevent ocean plastic waste and improve waste management and recycling, with the intention of creating a pipeline of projects for investment, with an initial focus on Southeast Asia.
  • Developing an open-source, science-based global information project to support waste management projects worldwide, including data collection, metrics, standards and methodologies to help governments, companies and investors focus on and accelerate actions to stop plastic waste from entering the environment.
  • Working with intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations to conduct joint workshops and training for government officials, as well as community-based leaders to help identify and pursue effective and locally relevant solutions in the highest-priority areas.
  • Supporting Renew Oceans, which is designed to capture plastic waste before it reaches the ocean from the 10 major rivers that are shown to carry the majority of land-based waste to the ocean. The initial work will support the Renew Ganga project, which has also received support from the National Geographic Society.

In the months ahead, the AEPW will make additional investments and drive progress in four key areas.

  • Infrastructure development to collect and manage waste and increase recycling.
  • Innovation to advance and scale new technologies that make recycling and recovering plastics easier and create value from all post-use plastics.
  • Education and engagement of governments, businesses and communities to mobilize action.
  • Clean concentrated areas of plastic waste already in the environment, particularly the major conduits of waste, like rivers, that carry land-based plastic waste to the sea.

Research from the Ocean Conservancy suggests that nearly 80% of plastic waste in the ocean begins as litter on land, the majority of which travels to the sea by rivers. One study estimates that more than 90% of river-borne plastic in the ocean comes from 10 major rivers around the world: eight in Asia and two in Africa. The Alliance said 60% of plastic waste in the ocean can be traced to five countries in Southeast Asia.

Founding members of the AEPW include BASF, Berry Global, Braskem, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LLC, Clariant, Covestro, Dow, DSM, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics Corp. USA, Henkel, LyondellBasell, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, Nova Chemicals, OxyChem, PolyOne, Procter & Gamble, Reliance Industries, SABIC, Sasol, Suez, Shell, SCG Chemicals, Sumitomo Chemical, Total, Veolia and Versalis (Eni).