BASF joins business call for UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution
January 25, 2021
BASF has joined a business call on United Nations member states to endorse the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) proposal for a UN Treaty on plastic pollution, reinforcing BASF’s commitment to reduce plastic waste in the environment.
By endorsing the proposal, BASF and more than 30 companies across different industries express their support for a global treaty to jointly tackle plastic pollution. Authors of the proposal are WWF, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Boston Consulting Group. The proposal’s overarching objective is to align businesses and governments behind a shared regulatory understanding of the causes of plastic pollution, and a coordinated approach to addressing them. It includes four elements: an agreement on a harmonized set of regulatory standards and common definitions for plastic products and production processes, a common policy framework, global reporting metrics and methodologies across the plastic value chain, as well as coordinated investment approaches to support infrastructure development in key markets and innovation.
Based on these elements, a treaty on plastic pollution can help drive the transition to a circular economy for plastic and to eliminate plastic waste in the environment. “Since plastic pollution is a global challenge that cannot be solved by one individual country or company, we support the business call to the member states of the United Nations to commence negotiations on a joint treaty on plastic pollution. Plastics are too valuable to be wasted. Littering and leakages must end. We strongly support a circular economy for plastics,” said Dr. Martin Jung, President of BASF’s Performance Materials division.
BASF already engages in several initiatives to prevent and reduce the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment. For example, BASF is a member of the World Plastics Council and of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation where it participates in the New Plastics Economy Initiative. Together with the European industry association PlasticsEurope, BASF is advocating to phase-out landfilling of the recoverable plastic waste so that more recycling capacities can be built up. Moreover, BASF co-founded the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), an organization that has been launched in 2019 with the mission to develop, accelerate and deploy solutions, engage communities and catalyze capital to end plastic waste in the environment. AEPW has more than 50 member companies that target to invest US$1.5 billion over the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment. At its pellet-handling sites, BASF actively implements measures against plastic pellet loss globally and supports Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS), an international program that strives to prevent plastic pellet, flake and powder loss in the environment through the entire pellet-handling value chain.
In December 2020, BASF launched its Circular Economy Program. By the year 2030, the company aims to double its sales generated with solutions for the circular economy to €17 billion. To achieve this, BASF concentrates on three action areas: circular feedstocks, new material cycles and new business models. In the field of plastics, examples include plastics based on renewable or recycled feedstock, soil biodegradable mulch film for use in agriculture, and additives that enable mechanical recycling. As of 2025, BASF aims to process 250,000 metric tons of recycled raw materials annually, replacing fossil raw materials.
The ChemCyclingTM project is one of the projects to promote a circular economy of plastics: With chemical recycling, plastic waste can be converted back into feedstock for the chemical industry, thereby replacing fossil feedstock. The recycled feedstock is allocated to certain sales products manufactured in BASF’s Verbund production via a mass balance approach. Consequently, these products have the exact same properties as those manufactured from fossil feedstock. Moreover, chemical recycling can cope with plastic waste streams for which it may be impossible or very inefficient to sort them for a high-value mechanical recycling. “Chemical recycling is therefore a useful complementary process to mechanical recycling, can significantly increase plastic recycling rates in general and upcycle plastic waste to high-performance materials,” said Dr. Christian Lach, ChemCycling Project Lead at BASF.