As sustainability becomes a top priority for businesses worldwide, disclosing environmental impact is crucial. Carbon emissions have been a critical metric in this regard, but now plastic has joined the conversation. CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) is a global disclosure platform that has been instrumental in this effort. In 2023, CDP added a plastics module to its water questionnaire, and companies can now disclose their plastic production and use data.
In this blog post, we explore why plastic disclosure is becoming increasingly important, and how your company can benefit from participating in CDP's plastics module. We will also provide practical tips and resources to help you prepare for the disclosure process and take meaningful steps towards a more sustainable future.
Plastics are a critical issue for companies seeking to improve their circularity and reduce their environmental impact. While consumer goods companies are primary targets for plastic disclosure, plastic packaging and materials are used throughout the value chain, making disclosure relevant for retailers, pharmaceutical companies, luxury brands, and automotive manufacturers alike.
Disclosing plastic data can help companies meet external requirements such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6 (Clean water and sanitation), 12 (Responsible consumption and production), and 14 (Oceans and seas). By improving plastic disclosure and reducing their environmental impact, companies can also position themselves as leaders in sustainability and contribute to a more sustainable future for all.
The CDP is a global disclosure platform that has played a leading role in the effort to manage environmental impacts. Through their platform, private and public entities report environmental information to investors, customers, and the public. Companies are invited to report on some or all of CDP's questionnaires, which cover topics such as climate change, water security, and forests. After preparing and submitting responses, companies receive scores that are forwarded to investors.
In 2023, CDP is expanding its focus to include plastics. This is a significant development, as plastics are a critical issue for companies seeking to improve their circularity and reduce their environmental impact.
Although the plastics section will not be scored in 2023, companies with established targets, roadmaps, and initiatives can begin gathering and including their data in their existing disclosure processes. For companies just starting out, this year's questions can serve as a helpful guide to begin measuring and gathering the information necessary to answer the water questionnaire. Companies with established targets, roadmaps, and initiatives can begin gathering and including their data in their existing disclosure processes. This is important as CDP will score the plastics section from 2024 onwards, meaning that now is the time to prepare.
The questionnaire contains a total of nine questions on plastics, providing a comprehensive overview of the data required for disclosure. The first five questions require a qualitative, text-based answer, while the remaining four require quantitative answers, including numerical weight in metric tonnes or raw material proportions indicated as a percentage. If your company engages in the production or commercialisation of plastic goods or packaging, or provides services or goods that use plastic packaging, you will need to answer all nine questions.
At South Pole, we can help you take the vital first steps towards measuring your plastics footprint. Our blog post, "Packing a punch: why your climate strategy needs to consider your plastic footprint," provides an in-depth explanation of how plastic footprints work and how they can be measured. With our support, you can gain valuable insights into your organisation's impact and improve your disclosure process.
Overview of the nine plastic-related questions in CDP's water questionnaire 2023
|(W10.1) Have you mapped where in your value chain plastics are used and/or produced?|
|(W10.2) Across your value chain, have you assessed the potential environmental and human health impacts of your use and/or production of plastics?|
|(W10.3) Across your value chain, are you exposed to plastics-related risks with the potential to have a substantive financial or strategic impact on your business? If so, provide details.|
|(W10.4) Do you have plastics-related targets, and if so what type?|
|(W10.5) Indicate whether your organisation engages in the following activities.|
|(W10.6) Provide the total weight of plastic polymers sold and indicate the raw material content.|
|(W10.7) Provide the total weight of plastic durable goods/components sold and indicate the raw material content.|
|(W10.8) Provide the total weight of plastic packaging sold and/or used, and indicate the raw material content.|
|(W10.8a) Indicate the circularity potential of the plastic packaging you sold and/or used.|
An overview of the nine plastic-related questions from CDP's water questionnaire 2023
Companies who have received an invitation to disclose with CDP can now begin completing the questionnaires, as the scoring methodologies and technical note on plastics are now available online. The disclosure period for CDP begins in March or April of each year and continues until the end of July, during which time companies can submit their results for scoring.
In conclusion, plastic disclosure is becoming a critical part of doing business sustainably. Companies need to understand their plastic footprint, identify areas of improvement, and set appropriate targets. By participating in CDP's plastics module, companies can take meaningful steps towards a more sustainable future while also improving their internal knowledge and meeting external requirements.