Article | 20 Sep, 2023

IUCN to lead new End Plastic Pollution International Collaborative (EPPIC) partnership with the Aspen Institute, The Ocean Foundation, and Searious Business

A $14.5 million USD, multiyear public-private partnership was launched today at the UN General Assembly with Host Consortium members International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Aspen Institute, The Ocean Foundation, and Searious Business. This programme is generously supported by the United States Department of State, and aims to build strong, multi-stakeholder cooperation to end plastic pollution globally.

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Photo: Cameron Venti / Ocean Image Bank

New York, NY, 20 September 2023 – Today, IUCN and its partners launched a new international, science-focused public-private partnership designed to drive innovation and investment to transform the plastic sector toward circular solutions. Over 400 attendees from the public sector and organisations with equities across the plastics value chain gathered to celebrate EPPIC’s whole-of-society approach to driving action on plastic pollution. Speakers included Under Secretary of State Jose W. Fernandez, Acting Assistant Secretary Jennifer R. Littlejohn, and Wildlife Conservation Society CEO Monica Medina, who all focused on solving the plastic pollution crisis by building effective connections among a global set of public-private networks. 

EPPIC will be jointly hosted and implemented by IUCN, the Aspen Institute (USA), The Ocean Foundation (USA), Searious Business (NL), with support from the U.S. Department of State. EPPIC will convene governments, business, civil society, philanthropies, and others to accelerate global action on plastic pollution, focusing on science-based solutions to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic waste. As a public-private partnership, EPPIC will have reach and opportunities that no single philanthropy, NGO, company, or national government could match working on its own. 

IUCN Acting Director General, Dr Grethel Aguilar said, "Plastic pollution can have disastrous effects on life in our oceans and on land, as well as on human health. This new programme aims to provide innovative solutions to enable a just transition to a circular plastic economy. Governments, the private sector, civil society, academia, and the informal sector must work together to solve this crisis, and be bold in our efforts to make positive change."

EPPIC will build momentum in the lead up to the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution in November (INC-3) and subsequent INC meetings, bringing together a diverse set of stakeholders to complement actions taken by national governments, and to support an ambitious, inclusive agreement by 2024. 

Jose W. Fernandez, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment said, “We know all too well the devastating impacts of plastic pollution on our planet. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to finding real solutions to this global crisis at home and abroad. EPPIC will create the stage to motivate ambitious commitments and actions to combat plastic pollution.”

EPPIC aims to enable a just transition to circular approaches for plastic by: 

  • Increasing knowledge on potential upstream, midstream, and end of life solutions
  • Ensuring policy and regulatory frameworks are supportive of science-based solutions
  • Supporting science-based solutions and technologies in target regions.

Willemijn Peeters, CEO and Founder of Searious Business shared, "The partnership structure incorporates the critical role of knowledge-based and scientific expertise to develop strong public-private partnerships to support a range of innovative solutions, needed for systemic and societal change in the target regions. The EPPIC approach will build on existing partnerships and networks that have been established across several global regions to avoid duplication of efforts, and enable faster upscaling."

Mark J. Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation noted, "A diverse set of partners will need to work collaboratively to reduce plastic production, redesign materials, make dramatic changes to supply chains, invest in innovation and adopt circular economic models and improved waste management practices to close the plastic tap. At its core, EPPIC aims to align stakeholders for effective action – making sure that policy and regulatory frameworks are supportive of science-based solutions to enable a just transition to circular approaches for plastic."

EPPIC is actively seeking organisational members to join the partnership. To learn more, please contact us at plastics@iucn.org. 

Daniel R. Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, said, "EPPIC is a crucial mechanism for enhancing collaboration among stakeholders across the plastic value chain and for raising awareness of the impacts of plastic pollution. The Aspen Institute is looking forward to working with public and private sector partners through EPPIC and to using the convening power of the Institute to catalyse next generation solutions and reduce plastic pollution."

To read more about the EPPIC programme, please visit the programme page here

About the Consortium Leadership

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs 
To provide American leadership, diplomacy, and scientific cooperation to conserve and protect the global environment, ocean, health, and space for the prosperity, peace, and security of this and future generations. Read more here.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. Since 2014, IUCN has been addressing the impact of plastics globally, with a focus on the marine environment. IUCN supports and builds capacity for countries to effectively negotiate the International, Legally Binding Instrument for Plastic Pollution. Read more here.

The Ocean Foundation’s Plastics Initiative works to address plastic pollution by engaging with international, national, and sub-national policy efforts and is an accredited NGO Observer to the United Nations Environment Programme, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution, the Science Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and to Prevent Pollution, and the Basel Convention. The Ocean Foundation works with NOAA to advance the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and is implementing a US Department of State grant to establish the Marine Debris Foundation. Read more here.

The Aspen Institute is a global non-profit organisation committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. The Aspen Institute Energy & Environment Program (EEP) addresses critical energy, environmental, and climate change issues through creating and facilitating dialogues with people of diverse perspectives to inform, educate, and create collaborative action plans that further an agenda that protects and improves life on this planet. Read more here.

Searious Business is a leading game-changer in the plastics industry, with an overarching mission to reduce plastic pollution at the source. Over the last 7 years, they have strengthened the private sector, facilitated systemic change, and influenced behavioral change within the industry. As an Advisor to the UN on the Global Plastics Agreement, to the Business Coalition for a Plastics Treaty, Reusable Packaging Association, several investors, and in multiple Plastic Pacts, their reach is global. Read more here.