New assurance first for plastic pollution reduction

New assurance first for plastic pollution reduction

Businesses in the manufacturing sector can now take significant verifiable steps to manage plastic waste and its impact on the environment, due to the launch of what is claimed to be the world’s first best-practice standard for Responsible Plastic Management (RPM).

According to the Pew Foundation, the flow of plastic into the world’s oceans will nearly triple to 29 million metric tonnes per year by 2040 if no action is taken. This could increase even further with single-use masks, gloves and aprons used to fight COVID-19 transmission now littering beaches and polluting our waters along with vast amounts of other plastic debris.

Now, by signing up to the RPM Standard and Program, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to taking proactive steps to better measure, reduce and re-use the plastic coming into – and going out from – their businesses.

Once companies have completed the five-step RPM programme, an assessment by independent global assurance company Lloyd’s Register will enable successful organisations to be certified and listed publicly in the RPM online directory.

RPM was founded as a not for profit, international organisation, by experienced assurance and sustainability specialists Peter Marshall and Dave Garforth. Peter comments: “Consumer awareness of plastic pollution has never been higher and we wanted to help organisations understand how they can play an important role in ensuring that waste is mitigated and out of the oceans and environment.

“One of the current issues facing the industry is that there is no official standard which helps organisations create an effective management plan. So, while we may hear that companies have committed to reducing their plastic waste, it’s unlikely that these plans will have been independently verified. Let’s be honest – it’s a lot easier to say you’re doing something if you’re not actually held accountable by a third party. The new RPM programme will help organisations drive real change by providing a framework for improvement – and then measuring them on progress.”

Certified organisations can access the RPM Trust Mark to illustrate their commitment to tackling this issue of plastic pollution to buyers, stakeholders and external parties. 

Complementing existing best practice industry standards – including ISO 14001 for environmental management – the RPM programme starts with an audit of existing policies and processes, which can take place either onsite or remotely. From there, an organisation’s credentials will be verified and a manageable, tiered programme will be officially implemented. Annual reviews will take place to ensure companies are on track to meet commitments in the avoidance, reduction, re-use and recycling of plastics and to ensure continued compliance.

Kimberly Carey Coffin, Global Technical Director – Supply Chain Assurance at Lloyd’s Register, commented: “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many plastic management programmes taking a backseat, but the news of PPE pollution further emphasises the long-term importance in addressing plastic responsibility. Whilst it is accepted that the preventative measures necessary to protect our communities are essential at present, the generation and irresponsible management of more plastic is not the answer.

“The launch of RPM is an important step for socially and environmentally conscious companies across the globe and we urge them to take their first steps in reducing plastic waste. The system is the perfect journey for businesses to take, allowing them to truly understand their actions in manageable steps. More importantly, it helps to drive measurement and effectively demonstrates how certain actions can make a positive impact on the environment.”

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