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Plastic Credits

Plastic Credits

Financing plastic waste recovery and recycling projects.

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Taking Accountable Plastic Action

Tackling plastic pollution requires a range of solutions. Whether you want to achieve plastic waste reduction or recycling commitments, support projects in specific locations, or comply with emerging regulations, South Pole can help you to find and implement these solutions.

What are Plastic Credits?

What are Plastic Credits?

A plastic credit is a certificate representing the environmental service of one metric tonne of plastic waste removed from the environment, or recycled. There are two credit types: Collection credits and Recycling credits.

Plastic credits can be bought by any public or private organisation to finance plastic action beyond their supply chain.

This organisation can then use the plastic credit as part of their plastic footprint reduction and mitigation strategy to reduce plastic waste in the environment.


"South Pole sees plastic credits as an opportunity for companies to invest in regional collection and recycling infrastructure. Thereby plastic credits can help companies take responsibility in creating the conditions of a circular economy, beyond existing reduction and redesign efforts. We believe plastic credits should work alongside, or enhance, Extended Producer Responsibility regulation."

Emilie Devenport, Managing consultant, Circular Economy and Practice project sourcing lead

Why purchase Plastic Credits?

Regional waste management infrastructure lacks the capacity to capture and recycle all the plastic waste we generate.

We all currently rely on regional governments to manage our waste, without any alignment to the companies who design the products and packaging that become waste. Extended Producer Responsibility legislation offers a local and mandatory solution. Plastic credits on the other hand offer an additional or integrated voluntary and internationally standardized solution.

Companies can address their plastic footprints by buying plastic credits from certified activities that enable the regional scale-up of collection and recycling infrastructure, while supporting community development.

Mitigate unavoidable plastic waste in your plastic footprint

By financing certified impacts and taking responsibility for your products and packaging. A credible mitigation strategy means financing infrastructure in regions where non-processed waste occurs, and addressing the same or similar plastic polymer.

Accelerate change for the circular economy

Be a frontrunner by supporting initiatives in your region to close the gap on plastic waste management capacity. South Pole advises clients to first measure and reduce their impact, before mitigating with Plast

Prepare for the future

In certain countries, plastic credits can be applied to meet mandatory requirements of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation. Plastic credits can also be applied as a voluntary, internationally standardised mechanism for companies that wish to go above and beyond regulatory requirements and take responsibility for their plastic waste.

Support local communities

By prioritising projects that are located in your key markets, your company can help to build regional capacity to address plastic waste. South Pole selects projects that transform plastic waste management in their local economy and we strive for projects with multiple win-wins (e.g. plastics, biodiversity, energy use and livelihoods).

How to use plastic credits?

South Pole recommends using plastic credits as part of a holistic plastic stewardship program that first evaluates and addresses upstream plastic use. Companies should first conduct transparent plastic footprint accounting, develop sustainable materials strategies, and re-design products for improved recyclability before investing in plastic waste infrastructure.

Step 1: Measure

Account for total plastic usage, waste mismanagement and recycling rates on a regional level.

Step 2: Set reduction targets and re-design

Set ambitious plastic reduction targets and implement product redesign improvements to increase the product's recycling potential and reduce the risk of waste mismanagement.

Step 3: Finance

Invest in plastic action by financing regional plastic waste recycling and/or collection infrastructure and activities through plastic credits in your target markets.

Finance should be directed to plastic waste collection activities that are located in the same regions, and address the same polymers as far as possible. Reliance on beyond-value-chain mitigation activities should reduce over time.

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on your plastic stewardship journey

South Pole Plastic Action labels

South Pole labels help companies and organisations demonstrate their commitment to limiting plastic pollution and increasing plastic's circularity. The labels can be achieved on a product or company level, depending on the scope covered in the plastic journey.

Net Zero Plastic to Nature

The 'Net Zero Plastic to Nature' label is used by organisations that can demonstrate that they have assessed and publicly disclosed their plastic footprint estimates and reduction strategy and that the total volume of plastic they sell and use is collected, resulting in net zero plastic leakagex into the natural environment.

This is demonstrated by proof of waste collection and management being equivalent to the total weight of the company's plastic waste generation. When existing infrastructure does not cover the regional plastic waste generated, plastic waste collection credits can be used to finance additional waste collection.

Net Zero Plastic Wasted

The 'Net Zero Plastic Wasted' label is used by organisations that can demonstrate that they have assessed and publicly disclosed their plastic footprint estimates and reduction strategy and that the total volume of plastic they sell and use is collected and recycled.

This is demonstrated by proof of waste collection and recycling, equivalent to the plastic waste generated by the company. When existing waste management infrastructure does not cover the regional generated plastic waste, waste collection credits can be used to prove investment in additional waste collection. When existing infrastructure does not cover regional or polymer-specific plastic recycling, plastic recycling credits can be used to prove investment in additional waste recycling.

Investing in plastic waste infrastructure through plastic credits


Investing in plastic waste infrastructure

Download our guide

Check out our guidance on how producers and users can invest in global plastic waste collection and recycling infrastructure, through certified plastic credits.

Find more about:

  • What plastic credits are and why to invest in them
  • South Pole's plastic project portfolio
  • How to achieve South Pole's "Net Zero Plastic to Nature" and "Net Zero Plastic Wasted" labels

Methodology for disclosure

In 2019, South Pole became a founding advisory member of the 3R Initiative that works towards increasing the accountability of plastic waste reduction efforts.


Guidelines for Corporate Plastic Stewardship

A methodology for companies to measure their plastic footprint and account for mitigation activities. These guidelines provide a transparent accounting method and facilitate credible leadership claims.


Verra Plastic Waste Reduction Standard

A project impact assessment framework that enables transparent and verified accounting of plastic waste collected or recycled. The voluntary standard is managed by Verra and has an associated plastic credit mechanism.

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Talk to us to get started on your plastic stewardship journey.
Irene Hofmeijer, Practice Lead Circular Economy
Talk to us to get started on your plastic stewardship journey.
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