A group of investors, including dedicated pension investors, has supported the development of a UK national standard to help prevent plastic pollution.
Published by BSI, which is the UK’s national standards body, “PAS 510” sets out requirements for the handling and management of plastic pellets, flakes and powders throughout the supply chain to prevent spills, leaks and loss to the environment.
Investors including Allianz GI, the Environment Agency Pension Fund and LGPS Central were represented – by Fauna and Flora International, an NGO – on the steering group that developed the standard. It included representatives from plastics, environmental recycling and retail organisations.
The investor group was convened by the Investor Forum, a UK body that engages with companies on behalf of its 53 members.
“The Investor Forum was delighted to have been able to bring together the investor group to help address this aspect of plastic pollution,” said Victoria Sant, senior adviser at the organisation.
Plastic pellets, flakes and powders are the raw materials used to make plastic products, including mouldings, pipes and packaging. As a result of handling and management practices, pellets can be lost to the environment at every stage of the plastic supply chain.
“Plastic pellets are estimated to be the second largest source of direct microplastic pollution entering the ocean, where they can have severe impacts on a wide range of species, including fish (which provide critical protein to billions of people) and seabirds, such as puffins,” said Tanya Cox, technical specialist, marine plastics at Fauna & Flora International.
“We have already written to our asset managers to make them aware of this new standard and to encourage them to engage with companies on this important issue”
Martin Parsons, project and risk officer at the Environment Agency Pension Fund
The investors supporting the new standard have indicated they will use it, or see it used, in engagement with companies and to assess environmental risk management.
“We want to reduce plastic pollution and this initiative will result in an independent, auditable and accredited standard that will help to achieve that,” said Martin Parsons, project and risk officer at the Environment Agency Pension Fund.
“We have already written to our asset managers to make them aware of this new standard and to encourage them to engage with companies on this important issue.”
Valborg Lie, stewardship manager at LGPS Central Limited, said: “We view this as a powerful engagement tool because it raises awareness, establishes best practice and provides a benchmark against which corporate practice can be measured.
“LGPS Central Limited is pleased with the work of the expert group that has assessed and proposed content for PAS 510. We will be able to use [it] as a direct reference in engagement with relevant industries.”