The Plastic Waste Reduction Program (Plastic Program) enables the robust impact assessment of new or scaled-up waste collection and recycling projects.
Only a fraction of the more than 350 million tons of plastic used each year is recycled. This plastic waste has become a critical concern to companies, governments, and consumers around the world. However, without new incentives it will be challenging to scale up waste collection and recycling to the levels needed to reduce the use of virgin material and keep significant amounts of plastic from entering the environment, especially the world’s oceans.
The Plastic Program is used for consistent accounting and crediting of a variety of plastic collection and recycling activities. It drives investment into projects that increase the collection and/or recycling of plastic waste. The Program enables the independent auditing of projects to determine the extent to which they have reduced plastic waste. The program issues credits based on the volume of plastic collected and/or recycled above baseline rates (i.e., what would have happened in the absence of the project activity). This “plastic crediting mechanism” provides an efficient and powerful means of financing activities that verifiably reduce plastic in the environment anywhere in the world.
The 3R Initiative, of which Verra is a founding member, conceptualized and supported the development of the Plastic Program.
How It Works
Projects developed under the Plastic Program follow a rigorous assessment process to be certified. The Plastic Program covers a diverse range of activities including waste collection from the environment, development of new municipal infrastructure, the collection and sorting of recyclable plastic waste, and the development of new recycling technologies and/or the scaling up of existing ones.
The robustness of the Plastic Program is supported by four key components:
The Plastic Waste Reduction Standard (PDF) lays out the rules and requirements that all projects must follow in order to be certified.
All Plastic Program projects are subject to desk and field audits by qualified independent third-party auditors and Verra staff to ensure that they meet standards and apply methodologies properly.
Projects are assessed using a technically sound plastic waste collection or recycling quantification methodology specific to that project type.
The Verra Registry is the central storehouse of data on all registered projects and will track the generation, retirement, and cancellation of all Plastic Credits. To register with the program, projects must show that they have met all standards and methodological requirements.
Starting a Plastic Project: What to Expect
Looking to develop a project using the Plastic Standard? This section outlines important information you should know before you begin.
1. Before You Begin
Before designing a Plastic Program project, please keep in mind:
- The scope of the Plastic Standard Program is currently limited to plastic waste collection and recycling activities.
- Reuse or reduction activities are not eligible to issue Plastic Credits.
- Projects can be developed anywhere in the world and may include any of the seven types of plastic, plus composite materials that include plastic.
Review the Develop a Project under Verra’s Plastic Program: A Quick Guide to familiarize yourself with the project development and registration process.
Please note that Verra staff cannot assist you with the development of a project. We can only respond to questions related to our rules and requirements. Some projects may decide to engage a developer or consultant to assist with the project development process.
2. Fees and Finances
Plastic project development costs vary depending on the circumstances and fall into three categories:
- Verra fees as outlined in the Plastic Program Fee Schedule.
- Project development fees include project development and operations, monitoring, and consultants fees.
- Auditing fees payable directly to the VVB.
As a standard-setting body, Verra does not track external costs (project development and auditing fees).
There are two timelines project proponents need to be aware of before starting to develop a plastic project: 1) the timeline for project registration, and 2) the timeline for Plastic Credit issuance.
1. Timeline for Project Registration
After a project proponent develops a project description, a project undergoes a 30-day public comment period. After this, the project goes through validation, during which a validation/verification body (VVB) carefully reviews all comments received during the public comment period and all project details.
After a successful validation, the project proponent requests project registration with Verra and undergoes project review as outlined in the Plastic Program Guide.
The length of the validation and registration process, which includes Verra’s review, varies from project to project and can take up to a year.
2. Timeline for Plastic Credit Issuance
Before a project can be issued Plastic Credits, the following steps need to be completed:
- Project activities need to be implemented and monitored and the plastic waste collected and/or recycled needs to be quantified;
- A validation/verification body (VVB) to verify the collection and/or recycling activities; and
- Verra needs to approve the verification.
Upon successful verification, the project can request Plastic Credit issuance via the Verra Registry.
4. Next Steps
Once a project is registered and has issued Plastic Credits, the project proponent can sell these credits on the open market.
As a mission-driven, non-profit standard-setter Verra maintains an impartial position in the marketplace and does not buy, sell, or trade Plastic Credits. Any negotiations and purchase agreements between the project developers and the buyers are established outside the Verra Registry.
Plastic at a glance
Projects listed on the registry
tonnes of plastic waste estimated to be collected or recycled
countries with Plastic Credit projects