There’s power in numbers as well as in data, which is part of the reason the launch of the Plastic IQ digital tool promises to help US companies develop effective plastic packaging waste reduction strategies.
Launched May 5 by The Recycling Partnership and SystemIQ and created with support from Walmart, Plastic IQ is a forward-looking, data-based planning tool aligned with industry best practices. The tool allows companies to prioritize actions to address plastic packaging waste, meet their sustainability goals, and ultimately accelerate progress toward a circular economy.
Plastic IQ is available at no cost so that companies of all sizes and resources can analyze their plastic packaging data and calculate how their company’s strategy impacts their costs as well as plastic and carbon emissions impact.
“Plastic waste is a global challenge that must be addressed with science, speed, and collaboration,” says Keefe Harrison, CEO, The Recycling Partnership. “No single entity can alone drive the transformative and widespread solutions we so critically need. That’s where Plastic IQ comes in. Driven by data and free for all to use, it provides decision makers at U.S. companies with a common tool to advance real-time solutions. By connecting the dots between goals, actions, and measurement, we believe Plastic IQ will accelerate the pace of meaningful change.”
Plastic IQ analyzes user data and helps companies calculate the circularity of their plastic packaging from production and consumption through to end of life. The tool takes companies through a series of steps to identify ways to use less plastic, promote better packaging, and contribute to a better system. Paired with a robust Solutions Database of resources and implementation guidance, Plastic IQ offers real-world actions users can take to strengthen their sustainability goals, respond to the expectations of their customers and stakeholders, and implement cost-saving opportunities.
“Many companies are now setting targets and joining initiatives to address the challenge of plastic waste,” says Ben Dixon, partner, SystemIQ. “We often hear that the plastics issue is complex for companies to navigate and set strategies. Information is power, and Plastic IQ is the solution that provides companies with the economic and environmental information needed to prioritize action, compare strategies against industry best practices and drive collective action.”
“Walmart supported the development of Plastic IQ to help companies better understand and identify solutions that can improve their plastic packaging strategies and minimize their plastic waste,” notes Kathleen McLaughlin, EVP and Chief Sustainability Officer at Walmart. “Without action, it’s estimated the annual flow of plastic into the ocean could nearly triple by 2040. We must work urgently to move beyond business as usual, and Plastic IQ is a free, publicly available tool to help any company, big or small, get world-class guidance on the plastic packaging challenge—we hope it helps everyone move further, faster.”
Plastic IQ translates leading industry research into personalized, data-based action plans, helps companies quantify the trade-offs in their decisions, and allows users to model how outside forces, such as policy or technology changes, may impact their efforts to reduce plastic waste. It also recognizes companies that set impactful targets to address plastic waste and realize their circularity and corporate sustainability goals. Plastic IQ has been guided by a group of brand owners, retailers, and organizations to ensure its maximum impact for industry.
As of May 5, 2021, the following companies have committed to use Plastic IQ and signed on to help catalyze the change needed: Colgate-Palmolive Company, Grove Collaborative, Happy Family Organics, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, Kellogg Company, Mondelēz International, Nestlé USA, Unilever, and Walmart.
"With so many businesses having stepped up to make commitments take coordinated action towards a circular economy for plastic, for example through voluntary mechanisms like the Global Commitment and the Plastics Pact network, it is very positive to see tools like Plastic IQ being built to help these businesses build out their strategies to achieve these targets for a world without plastic pollution," says Sander Defruyt, New Plastics Economy Lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The project involved guidance from the following organizations: As You Sow, Association of Plastic Recyclers, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The Sustainability Consortium, U.S. Plastics Pact, and World Wildlife Fund.