Frequently Asked Questions
This page provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Plastic Standard, Guidelines for Corporate Plastic Stewardship and 3R Initiative. Please contact us with any further queries you might have.
The 3R (Reduce, Recover, Recycle) Initiative (3RI) brings together companies and NGOs committed to achieving zero plastic waste. The 3RI catalyzes corporate leadership to reduce plastic waste through internal and supply chain actions, and supports collection and/or recycling projects to mitigate plastic waste that a company cannot address directly. Its members conceptualized a standard for plastic crediting and supported the development of Verra’s Plastic Waste Reduction Standard. The 3RI also helped conceptualize and develop the Guidelines for Corporate Plastic Stewardship. Please visit the 3R Initiative website for further information.
The Plastic Standard sets out requirements for new or scaled-up collection and recycling projects that can quantify their impact in a credible, transparent and consistent way to generate Plastic Credits. The projects must meet stringent requirements, including social and environmental safeguards. Credits are issued for the additional amount of plastic waste that has been collected from the environment and managed in a responsible manner (e.g., recycled, landfilled or incinerated with energy recovery) or for any plastic recycled beyond a baseline recycling rate.
Any company looking to mitigate its plastic footprint beyond its own value chain can purchase Plastic Credits. The revenue from credit sales enables projects to continue or scale-up their collection and/or recycling activities.
The Plastic Standard will help create a more circular economy involving companies, NGOs, governments, recycling companies, infrastructure investors, energy companies and waste pickers.
It will incentivize the additional collection and recycling of plastic waste; improve working conditions, safety and livelihoods of waste pickers, collectors and sorters; and spur companies to reduce the amount of virgin plastic used in their value chains. Ultimately, the Plastic Standard will increase transparency and uniformity in the accounting of plastic waste collection and recycling activities.
Companies can use the Plastic Standard to assess the impact of new waste collection and recycling projects or investments, stimulate the increased availability of recycled plastic feedstocks in key packaging production regions, and reduce supply chain risk by ensuring social inclusiveness through increased wages and safe working conditions in the waste collection, sorting and processing industries.
The Plastic Standard can benefit governments by incentivizing voluntary investment and action in new and expanded collection and recycling projects to meet or complement municipal and regional waste management needs. It also allows regulators to bring projects using the Plastic Standard into their extended producer responsibility schemes and jumpstart programs with a suite of high-performing projects.
Projects that measurably increase the collection and/or recycling of waste plastic above baseline rates. Creditable activities include but are not limited to: community waste collection from the environment; collection and sorting of recyclable plastic waste; new or expanded waste collection infrastructure development; and new or expanded recycling infrastructure development.
Most of the credited collection activities will be located in economies dependent on “informal” waste management, where the waste collection projects will need to ensure that local waste picker communities are involved in an inclusive and beneficial way.
The price of Plastic Credits will vary based on characteristics of the project from which they are issued (e.g., collection vs. recycling, location, material type, social impact). One credit represents one tonne of collected or recycled plastic waste.
Plastic Credits can be labeled with additional certifications, for example, a certification for the project’s social and environmental co-benefits (e.g., increased wages, reduced marine pollution). In other markets, additional certifications often increase the value of the credit.
Companies looking to mitigate the parts of their plastic footprints that cannot be addressed through direct (internal and supply chain) actions are expected to be the major buyers of Plastic Credits. If desired, companies can invest in outside projects and/or purchase and retire sufficient volumes of Plastic Credits to help them achieve their plastic stewardship commitments.
The Plastic Standard can be used to transparently and credibly quantify the waste reduction benefits and enable standardized impact comparisons between projects. Therefore, companies not interested in credits can still use the Plastic Standard to assess the quality, effectiveness and social value/safeguards of projects they are developing or supporting.
If a company’s commitments and claims about plastic stewardship are not explicit, clear and independently verifiable, they represent a reputational risk. A wide variety of terms related to corporate plastic stewardship, such as ‘Plastic Neutral’ and ‘One In, One Out’, are already in use, and many more will evolve over time. Regardless of commitments, transparency of the concepts involved in any claim is crucial to credibly communicating leadership.
Companies can retire Plastic Credits verified to the rules and requirements of the Plastic Standard to compensate for the parts of their plastic leakage that cannot yet be eliminated, demonstrating progress toward achieving commitments around plastic waste reduction. The Guidelines set out three commitments related to plastic waste and circularity that Waste Collection Credits and Waste Reduction Credits can contribute to: Net Zero Plastic Leakage, Net 100% Recycled at End-of-Life and Net Circular Plastic.
Yes. The Guidelines encourage companies to assess their plastic footprint and implement activities to reduce it within their value chain as a first priority. Only once opportunities for direct actions have been identified should a company use Plastic Credits to compensate for its unavoidable plastic leakage.
This prioritization helps companies take meaningful actions to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging, including reducing total plastic use and the potential for waste through redesign and using recycled content where plastic cannot be eliminated. It also allows companies to take full responsibility for the plastic waste that they cannot eliminate through the purchase of Plastic Credits. Ideally, those Plastic Credits would match in material type and geography to the company’s leaked plastic.
Greenwashing occurs when disinformation or ineffective actions are presented by a company to create a positive environmental public image. The Guidelines can be used to account, assess and transparently report on the effectiveness of waste reduction actions and any associated claims that companies make regarding the mitigation of their plastic footprints.
The Guidelines substantiate potential waste reduction claims by companies, including providing rules for robust accounting of company plastic footprints, defining how companies must aggressively reduce their footprints (including through recycled/recyclable content and value chain investments) and establishing when and how Plastic Credits can be used to credibly mitigate potential leakage that companies cannot tackle themselves.
The Plastic Standard ensures that projects are only credited to the extent they generate a verifiable increase in the collection or recycling of plastic waste that would not have occurred without the revenues from credit purchases. The Plastic Program Guide sets out requirements for claims made about projects that use the Plastic Standard and Plastic Credits verified under that program.
The Plastic Standard is the only standard that mandates that credits only represent the activity of additional (i.e., beyond business as usual) plastic waste collection and recycling. Other standards either do not require action beyond business as usual or certify/issue credits for the material (e.g., recycled content, ocean bound plastic). For the most part, organizations that currently credit the activity of collection or recycling plan to use the Plastic Standard when it is launched.
The Plastic Standard was developed with the support of the Plastic Standard Development Committee, which includes organizations with existing projects, such as Plastic Bank, rePurpose and Project STOP as well as others working directly with companies (Lonely Whale), and the companies themselves that are engaged across many different initiatives in this space (Dow, Mars). Through this committee and the 3RI pilot projects, we are seeing activities on the ground and global brands come together around the Plastic Standard as a credible and robust international certification.
The Guidelines are the first integrated framework incorporating best practices for achieving and reporting on goals to collect and recycle plastic. The 3RI, EA, South Pole and Quantis referred to the Plastic Leak Project, the most advanced plastic leakage assessment framework, WWF’s ReSource: Plastic initiative, and the work of, among others, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, United Nations Environment Programme and World Business Council for Sustainable Development to support the development of the Guidelines.
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