After years of campaigning by NGOs, it took a seminal wildlife documentary – Blue Planet II – to get politicians to pay attention to the devastation being wrought by the disposal of plastics.
More than eight million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the oceans every year, equivalent to 16 full shopping bags for every metre of the world’s coastline.
Policy experiments have proven remarkably effective. The UK’s plastic bag charge cut usage by 85%1. We expect to see similar policy initiatives developed in 2018. Single-use plastic bottles are a likely target, given that a million plastic bottles are sold every minute, but only a small percentage of which are made from recycled materials.
There is a potential cost here for companies which have to change their production processes – but it also opens up opportunities for those developing innovative new packaging solutions.
‘More than eight million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the oceans every year, equivalent to 16 full shopping bags for every metre of the world’s coastline’. But how much plastic is there really in the ocean?
The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are a blueprint for a better world, cover issues from poverty, inequality, the environment, to education and public health, and the SDGs identify 169 targets to track progress towards the 2030 target date.
Responsibility for achieving progress was once seen very clearly as the duty of governments, perhaps with the help of charities and NGOs to fill the gaps.
But times have changed. We are shifting to a new paradigm where both companies, and investors in them, are expected to recognise that their actions have wider consequences on the economy and society, and to think deeply about how they can square their duties to deliver risk adjusted returns with the imperative to manage these consequences.
What does that mean in practice for investors? As well as further growth in the rapidly-expanding Socially Responsible investing industry, we also anticipate further momentum behind efforts to measure portfolio-wide sustainability impacts, as investors seek to demonstrate their understanding of their alignment with the SDGs.