Searching for Solutions to Ocean Plastics

Posted on November 14, 2018

Martin Vezér
Martin Vezér
ESG Research Associate Director, Thematic Research

Over the past year, the public, regulators and investors have expressed growing concerns about the problem of ocean plastics. While some organizations have pledged to address the issue, our analysis of 4,575 companies in the sectors that generate most of the plastic waste on the planet reveals that less than 1% of these firms mention the phrase “ocean plastic” or “ocean health” in relevant corporate documents. This finding suggests a low level of strategic awareness about ocean plastics among companies exposed to the issue despite clear interest among consumers, law-makers and investors.

In our recently published ESG Spotlight report, Blue Investing: Searching for Solutions to Ocean Plastics, we take a deep dive into the plastics economy in search of publicly traded companies that are well positioned to mitigate the risk of extended producer responsibility and deliver sustainable solutions to plastic pollution. The approach we take supports what we call “blue investing” – that is, gaining portfolio exposure to firms committed to marine ecosystem conservation.

Among the eight firms featured in this report, we highlight BillerudKorsnäs, a Swedish paper packing company, and Adidas, a German footwear and apparel producer, to be among the players best prepared to contribute meaningful solutions to the problem of ocean plastics. BillerudKorsnäs offers a variety of biodegradable paper alternatives to plastic packaging and is exploring how starch-based materials can replace conventional food packaging. Adidas sold a million pairs of shoes made from recycled ocean waste in 2017 and announced in July 2018 that by 2024 it will only use recycled polyester in all its shoes and clothing. These and the other solutions offered by the companies featured in our report are far from a panacea, but they demonstrate the beginnings of what a blue investing thesis may look like.

The infographic below summarizes some of the considerations that motivated our study. To learn more about this project, including how we deployed a customized web-crawling tool and a suite of relevant environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics to identify companies contributing potential solutions to the problems of plastic pollution, download our report, Blue Investing: Searching for Solutions to Ocean Plastics.

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