The Mirpuri Foundation attended the “What does a life-cycle approach applied to address marine litter and plastic pollution look like?” webinar, an event organized by the Life Cycle Initiative and hosted by UNEP.

The online event explored how a life-cycle approach can be applied to plastics and which challenges does this bring. It also provided a series of examples of how the life-cycle approach has already been applied, gathering perspectives from three different stakeholders.

The webinar was moderated by Tessa Goverse (UNEP’s Head of Pollution-Free Ecosystems Unit), stressing that problems related to marine litter and plastic pollution can only be addressed if there is a joint action between governments, the industry and consumers.LLorenç Milà i Canals (Head of Secretariat, Life Cycle Initiative) was the first speaker, explaining what a life-cycle of a product is and why it should be implemented to address plastic pollution. For him, “we have a lot of information and resources to get us going, so we need to implement these policies and act more decisively”.

Following the first presentation, Gerald Naber (New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, Ellen Macarthur Foundation) emphasized how there are a number of voluntary initiatives that are assuming a critical role in addressing plastic-related problems. He gave the example of the Plastics Pacts (of which the Mirpuri Foundation is also a part of), which define specific targets and incentivize action.Guillermo González Caballero (Head of Circular Economy, Ministry of Environment, Chile), Deshanya Naidoo (Analyst at the South African Plastics Pact) and Tom Szaky (CEO and Founder of TerraCycle and Loop) were the last three speakers, providing concrete examples of how the life-cycle approach is being applied to address plastics. Guillermo González Caballero gave his contribution by sharing the vision and measures of a leading government in applying the life-cycle approach. After him, Deshanya Naidoo shared the South African Plastics Pact targets and actions that are being taken.

Closing the series of presentations, Tom Szaky enriched the event by bringing an industry perspective to the table. A Q&A session was held before closing remarks by Elisa Tonda (UNEP’s Head of Consumption and Production Unit).

The life-cycle approach can bring multiple advantages when applied to address plastics. It enables the identification of key hotspots and is able to guide financial decisions. Establishing common definitions, indicators and measures is one fundamental step to successfully apply the life-cycle approach. Making sure that information is available and understandable across the plastics value chain is also key.

This webinar was held in order to answer a request that was made during the first pre-meeting of the “Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution”, asking for technical insights on what does it mean to use a life cycle approach in the context of plastic pollution.