APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Project Kaisei will be launching this initiative with ASrIA (The Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The project will entail a list of survey questions that the world's asset managers will be able to ask of investee companies, along with questions on carbon and water use. The surveys will be yearly in nature, and administered in the same way that carbon disclosure reports are administered for annual reporting purposes. Annual carbon disclosure allows investors to understand what liabilities might exist due to a company's carbon use. The same type of reporting would be used for plastic, so that investors and shareholders know what type of liabilities might exist from a brand value and corporate operations point of view if socially responsible use of the material is not practiced. Issues that may cause corporate value to decrease include health, toxicity, ecosystem pollution and material wastage. This project can also help to bring value to positive assets that a company may have in relation to new technologies, processes or materials.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
The first surveys to be launched are expected to be administered iduring the first half of 2011, following negotiation of a project agreement between the three partners. The focus will be on global investors who have a socially responsible interest. The survey will be conducted from Hong Kong, but will be asked of companies around the world by the investment community. In Asia, there is the potential for the survey questions to be asked of companies at the same time that carbon disclosure questions are asked, and within the same survey, since ASrIA is the administrator of the Carbon Disclosure Project in Asia ex-Japan. For non-Asian companies, ASrIA will be able to send out independent surveys on a yearly basis. Reports will be published yearly, and an annual event will be held to discuss the findings and trends. The investment community has a vested interest in this type of reporting due to the mandates and interests of the asset owners of their funds.
As companies come in line with demands from investors and the public to improve their business practices and their transparency, results will be monitored using the survey results, which will highlight when reductions, changes or improvements in plastic use are declared. Unlike with carbon, it is easy for consumers, the public, and investors, to see changes in the use of plastic, via design changes, material modifications (biodegradability) or recycling programs.
It is expected that when the Plastic Disclosure Project is announced and formalized, companies will look at their own internal operations to see where they can be better corporate citizens, and where they can save money, vis-?-vis their use of plastic. It is expected that millions of tons per year can be reduced in use and consumption as a result of smarter design, new materials, and improved recycling efforts.
Some say that the plastic footprint on this planet is worse than our carbon footprint. Plastic kills marine life, is likely entering our food chain, continues to increase within the ecosystem due to poor waste management practices, and has negative economic impacts to fisheries, shipping, tourism and our health. It can last in ecosystems for hundreds of years. It is estimated that roughly 90% of plastics made today do not get recycled. This poses a significant opportunity for re-use, better design, and cost savings. By asking questions about plastic use in production and sales, companies throughout the world will be spurred to think about ways that they can innovate, save money, and use new materials which may be less harmful to our ecosystem in the long run. A reduction in plastic use, which can be monitored annually by transparent reporting with the Plastic Disclosure Project, can lead to a reduction in CO2, as can an increase in recycled plastic material (instead of using virgin material). The goal with this project is to decrease the consumption of petroleum based plastic that we know today, which is made with polymers that do not biodegrade.
This commitment will bring worldwide attention to global plastic consumption, the impacts of plastic as a material, and bring logical focus on solutions for change. Just as carbon footprint calculations are commonplace today, both among industry and individuals alike, the Plastic Disclosure Project will bring about the notion of 'Plastic Footprints' which will have a global impact on improved resource use. The result will be felt worldwide in terms of a cleaner environment, a safer environment for wildlife, a healthier food chain, and a carbon/petroleum reduced economy.
Project Kaisei will be the lead organization in this project, using the environmental problem of plastic in the ocean to stress the importance of this type disclosure.
Ocean Recovery Allianceis looking for partners with financial resources, implementing partners, media support, and collaborators. This will include launch and outreach efforts, education and training, as well as operational support for scale. Programmatic inclusion with certain reporting initiatives is also an opportunity where support can be applied, allowing for greater access to industry sectors.