According to a report, global plastic use by manufacturers has peaked. It is expected to drop by about a fifth in 2025 because of the increase in recycled packaging.

Virgin plastic use by companies including Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever has fallen for the second year running, says UK charity the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 

The foundation supports a circular economy where resources can be kept in use for as long time as possible, as an alternative option to virgin plastic. 

Virgin plastic is the opposite to recycled plastic. It’s a plastic resin made from new materials that was created entirely without using recycled material. 

All in all, the foundation has teamed up with 63 retailers and consumer goods companies to reduce their non-recycled plastic consumption by nearly a fifth between now and 2025.  

To prevent plastic pollution, however, it is urgent to focus more on eliminating single-use packaging. 

Virgin plastic use by companies including Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever has fallen for the second year running, says UK charity the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Virgin plastic use by companies including Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever has fallen for the second year running, says UK charity the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Graph shows the estimated trajectory of the weight of virgin plastic in packaging for Global Commitment brand and retail signatories, 2018 to 2025. There's an expected total reduction in virgin plastic used by brand and retail signatories of 19 per cent between 2018 and 2025

This graph illustrates the projected trajectory of virgin plastic packaging in Global Commitment brands and retailers signatories between 2018 and 2025. Brand and retail signatories will see a reduction of 19% in virgin plastic between 2018-2025


Virgin plastic can be defined as a plastic resin created from new materials without the use of recycled material.

To create new, innovative plastic products it is produced with crude oil or natural gas. 

It’s less environmentally-friendly than recycled plastic, which helps build a ‘circular economy’ – where material resources are used again and again for as long as possible. 

Sander Defruyt who is the leader of the New Plastics Economy Initiative at the foundation, described the reduction in virgin plastic usage as a “very important milestone”. 

He told Financial Times that virgin plastic has increased in this sector for many decades if you look at it from a historical perspective.

“Some of the biggest brands and retailers around the globe are showing this can be done, and that it is possible to decouple business growth from virgin plastic usage.”

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation leads the Global Commitment, launched in 2018 in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme. 

The commitment has 63 brands and retail signatories including Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Mars and L’Oréal, who are committed to plastic packaging reduction targets for 2025. 

A new foundation report shows that retailers and committed brands collectively have reduced virgin plastic use by 11.2 percent between 2020 and 2019 after a reduction of 0.6% between 2018 and 2019. 

The result is a decade of rapid growth in virgin plastics use, which saw the world’s plastics market grow from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to over 300 million tonnes by 2015. 

Since the announcement of this commitment, in 2018-2025, the foundation anticipates an overall decline in virgin plastic consumption of 19% (or nearly a fifth). 

It would prevent an estimated 8,000,000 tonnes of virgin plastics being manufactured each year and keep 40 million barrels oil, which could be used to make virgin plastic in the ground every year.

Unilever's 75,000 products include Pot Noodle, Marmite, Cornetto, Magnum and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, as well as inedible items like toothpaste and body wash

Unilever has 75,000 products, including Pot Noodle and Magnum, Cornetto and Magnum, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Magnum. There are also inedible items such as toothpaste and body washes.


There are 63 retail and brand signatories to the commitment, including:



– Nestlé

– Unilever

– Coca-Cola

– L’Oréal 

– Kellogg’s 

– Mondelez (Cadbury’s owner) 

For the complete list, see the report 

The report states that progress in virgin plastic reduction is largely driven by the growing use of recycled material in packaging. However, this doesn’t solve plastic pollution as there are still discarded plastic containers.

It has received ‘alarmingly low investment’ in efforts to decrease single-use packaging, with intentions to continue ‘appearing very low. 

Global Commitment signatories have less than 2 percent of plastic packaging that can be reused. More than half of the signatories had 0 percent reusable plastic packaging.   

The foundation looked into the efforts of the individual signatories to reach their individual plastic use reduction targets – both virgin and recycled. 

For example, Unilever, which makes Pot Noodle, Cornetto, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and other products, increased recycled content to 11 per cent of its plastic packaging in 2020, up from 5 per cent in 2019 and 1 per cent in 2018.

The London-based firm – which is set to add ‘carbon footprint labels’ to its products – is also on track to reach its 25 per cent target by 2025.

Mars however reported not using any recycled plastic packaging in 2020 despite having a target to use 30% by 2025. 

Mars reported using no recycled plastic packaging in 2020, despite a target of having packaging with 30 per cent recycled content by 2025

Mars said it did not use any recycled plastic packaging in 2020 despite its goal to achieve packaging that contains 30% recycled content by 2025 

PepsiCo’s progress is slow as well. Only 5% of their plastic packaging will have recycled content by 2020. This compares to 4% in 2019 and 2% in 2018.  

Coca Cola, a soft drink competitor to it, had 11.5 percent recycled content for 2020. This was up from 9.7 and 9 percent in 2019. 

MailOnline received a statement from Coca Cola stating that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been a leader in setting consistent goals for circular economy reporting and was a valuable resource. 

“While we are pleased with the achievements made by the World Without Waste Program since 2018, we still have much to do. We look forward to working with other stakeholders and taking our work to the next stage. 

Global Commitment does not capture 80 percent of plastic packaging’s market.

Around 100 countries have supported the UN Environment Assembly’s initiative to start negotiations for a plastics global agreement in February 2022. 

‘Policymakers now have a significant opportunity to address these gaps by creating the enabling conditions both to support efforts by leading companies and to drive laggards to action,’ the Ellen MacArthur Foundation says.     

MailOnline also contacted Unilever, Pepsi and Mars for comment. 

A Unilever spokesperson said: ‘We’ve seen success across a number of packaging innovations, with our biggest brands now using 100 per cent recycled bottles, as well as new projects like Dove’s refillable deodorant designed to last a lifetime.

“We are committed to reduce our virgin plastic use by half by 2025, and help you collect more and more plastic packaging. We also make 100% of our packaging recyclable, compostable, and reusable.

“Progress has been made, but more work remains.” 

Every year, eight million tonnes worth of plastics make their way into our oceans

Out of 30 billion bottles plastic used annually by UK households, only 57% are being recycled.

Half of the plastic bottles recycled end up in landfills.

Every day, around 700,000.000 plastic bottles end up in the trash.

It is mostly due to non-recyclable plastic wrap around bottles.

The increasing plastic waste found in oceans around the globe is largely due to bottles. 

Research has shown that eight million tonnes worth of plastics end up in the ocean each year, which is equivalent to one truckload per minute. 

A report published in 2016 showed that the amount of plastic trash in the oceans could surpass the fish population by 2050 if the world does not take urgent action to reduce it. 

This will increase to approximately four truckloads per hour at current rates and surpass native life in 2050 to make the oceans home to the greatest mass.

An overwhelming 95 per cent of plastic packaging – worth £65 – £92billion – is lost to the economy after a single use, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report stated.

According to available research, there is more than 150,000,000 tonnes of plastics today in the ocean.

It is estimated that about eight million metric tons of plastic find their way into the world's oceans every year

The world’s ecosystems are being destroyed by plastic pollution, marine and terrestrial. It pollutes beaches, captures animals and chokes whole animal populations.  

Scientists warn that so much plastic gets dumped in the ocean each year, it could fill five bags per foot on Earth’s coastline. 

Only five countries are responsible for over half of all plastic waste that reaches the oceans: China (Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Philippines). 

United States is No. 20 on the List of Top 20 Plastic Polluters. 20. 

Research has shown that plastic waste from the US and Europe is not a consequence of poor management.

According to a study in Science, China accounts for nearly 28 percent the amount of plastic entering the oceans. However, only 77,000 tonnes is contributed by the United States, less than 1% according to the study.