15th May 2024

Plastic pollution and how to stop it via sustainable financing

Financial incentives encourage companies to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices. Both governments and the private sector play a crucial role in this dynamic. Luxembourg is implementing legislative measures to reduce the amount of plastic waste, while providing practical advice on concrete actions at a local level. Charles-Albert Florentin, Cleantech Cluster Manager at Luxinnovation, shares his expertise on sustainable innovation in Luxembourg, with a focus on the global impact of financing to combat plastic pollution.

1. Can you name a few innovative sustainable financing initiatives that are currently being implemented to tackle plastic pollution globally?

First of all, I would mention the World Bank, which was the first bank in the world to launch a bond to provide financial support for the reduction and recycling of plastic waste, for a total amount of €100m.

Secondly, extended producer responsibility (EPR) programmes encourage manufacturers to finance the collection and recycling of plastics, particularly plastic packaging, that they put on the market, thereby encouraging the design of more sustainable products.

2. How effective are financial incentives to encourage companies to reduce their use of plastic and adopt more sustainable practices?

Overall, we note an increased awareness on the part of companies regarding this theme of plastics, which goes beyond financial aspects alone. The industrial sector, for example, is working on ways to improve the plastics processing cycle and on possible synergies between the various players.

Things could change further between now and the end of the year, with the expected adoption of a global treaty following a UN resolution passed in March 2022. This text should be legally binding in order to combat plastic pollution in a comprehensive manner, taking into account the entire life cycle of these plastics.

3. What role do governments play in supporting sustainable financing initiatives to combat plastic pollution?

Of course, we can’t deny the key role that governments play in the fight against plastic pollution, with the introduction of tax incentives on the one hand and financial penalties in the event of failure on the other. But neither should all action in this area be left to the State. Private players, starting with manufacturers, also have a significant role to play in reaching a solution, through their commitment to research and development, to find innovative approaches and processes to reduce the production of plastic materials and to better manage waste.

4. What is Luxembourg doing to step up sustainable financing projects to combat plastic pollution and how do our efforts compare with the rest of the world?

In 2022, Luxembourg adopted a new law on waste prevention and reduction and continues to work on the development of reusable packaging systems. It is expected that all plastic packaging will have to be designed to be reusable or recyclable by 2030. A law prohibiting the systematic destruction of unsold goods is also being considered.

At Luxinnovation, the national innovation agency, we are also working on projects to develop more efficient use, recycling and reduction of plastics, both nationally and in the Greater Region.

5. Do you have five tips for our readers to help them reduce plastic pollution in their communities?

5 useful tips to reduce plastic pollution in the communities:  

  1. The best way to combat plastic pollution is not to create it! Opt for bulk and reusable containers, made of glass, fabric or metal.
  2. Pay careful attention to unnecessary overpackaging of food products. Twelve biscuits will be as good in a single box as in six small bags containing two biscuits each.
  3. Sort plastics correctly. Plastic waste should be disposed of in a specific container or bag and not in a roadside ditch or the gutter.
  4. Educating children is essential – setting a good example for them will ensure that future generations will naturally behave better.
  5. Participate in initiatives to clean up forests, parks, rivers, etc.

About the blog:

 

There is an urgent need for rapid transition to global sustainability. Business and industry have enormous social and environmental impacts. "Why does it matter?" is a bi-monthly blog that aims to elucidate this important topic through the eyes of our experts. 


Don't miss out our experts' practical tips for your daily life and be part of the positive change. 

Sustainability