Reinventing plastic and changing behaviours

“Let's Reinvent Plastic” is the motto of the Portuguese Pact for Plastics campaign, which starts today and aims to raise awareness among Portuguese consumers about the responsible use of plastic. The goal is to mobilize society in the transition process into a circular plastic economy in Portugal, an economy where we continue to benefit from the characteristics of plastic, with no environmental impact.

The Portuguese Pact for Plastics is a collaborative initiative that started in February with the involvement of several dozen companies and entities in the plastic value chain. Now it intends to impact the most important element of the value chain: consumers, with the main goal of boosting the transition to the circular economy for plastics in Portugal.

After the involvement of companies from different sectors, government entities, NGOs, associations and universities, the time has come to also involve citizens in the mission to solve the problems associated with plastic. The 1st phase of the “Let's Reinvent Plastics” campaign is betting on a digital presence via the website, with an online campaign on several reference sites; closer communication with citizens through social networks; a project presenting video and the associate members’ presence at the points of sale.

Continente, in addition to being a signatory member of the pact, was one of the main drivers of its constitution, after joining the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Global Commitment - New Plastics Economy, in which it was the first Portuguese retailer to be present. So far, the brand has reached more than 4,200 tonnes of virgin plastic saved annually, through multiple initiatives to reduce and eliminate unnecessary plastic, at the same time that it has been committed to awareness raising actions within the consumer, promoting a responsible use of this material. These initiatives and brand commitment are available on the platform.

“Since the launch of the Portuguese Pact for Plastics, last February, the level of commitment and collaboration that this initiative’s members have shown has been extraordinary. Coming from various sectors along the plastics value chain, our members have been implementing several actions on the ground, which are undoubtedly accelerating the transition to a circular economy for plastics in Portugal. But for these actions to reach their goals, it is essential that consumers understand their importance”, says Pedro São Simão, coordinator of the Portuguese Pact for Plastics. “The 'Let's Reinvent Plastics' campaign represents the starting point for engaging and raising awareness for the most important element in the value chain - consumers. Only with the support of Portuguese consumers to the Portuguese Pact for Plastics will it be possible to create a truly sustainable and circular future”, says Pedro São Simão.

The Portuguese Pact for Plastics brings together more than 80 entities, including brands, producers, retailers, recyclers, waste management entities, Government, universities, NGOs, local authorities, as well as the community, with a common goal: accelerating the transition to a circular economy for plastics, where we continue to benefit from the qualities of plastic, ensuring that it never ends in the environment.

Plastic is everywhere and is part of the daily life of all Portuguese. It is practical, light, cheap, versatile and, above all, very useful. However, the way it has been used - in a linear way - has resulted in the degradation and pollution of the environment, especially in the oceans. It is, therefore, urgent to mobilize Portuguese society and have it rethink the use, and post-use, of plastic in the country. That is, reducing unnecessary plastic, innovating to implement packaging reuse solutions, increasing plastic recycling, and incorporating recycled material into new products.

Led by the Smart Waste Portugal Association and with the support of the Portuguese Government, the Portuguese Pact for Plastics belongs to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's global network of Plastics Pacts, which brings together similar initiatives from various geographies, with the aim of sharing experiences, knowledge and good practices and placing Portugal in the group of countries that intend to lead this transition.

"We are excited to accompany and support the advances of the Portuguese Pact for Plastics, today composed of more than 80 public and private entities that represent the entire value chain of plastics, united by the same vision: that plastic never becomes waste in Portugal. At each step taken jointly by this group of organizations, we move forward in building a circular economy for plastic, which involves eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastics, innovating to ensure that the plastics produced are reusable, recyclable or compostable and circulating these plastics so that they can be effectively recycled or composted." says Thais Vojvodic, Plastics Pact Network Manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Let’s recall the ambitious goals that the Portuguese Pact for Plastics’ members have pledged to achieve by 2025:

• Define, by 2020, a list of single-use plastics considered problematic or unnecessary and define measures for their elimination, through redesign, innovation or alternative delivery models (reuse);
• Ensure that 100% of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable;
• Ensure that 70% or more of plastic packaging is effectively recycled, increasing collection and recycling;
• Incorporate, on average, 30% recycled plastic in new plastic packaging;
• Promote consumer awareness and education activities (current and future) for the circular use of plastics.

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