Broken promises on plastics: New research gives almost half of the world’s most valuable companies an ‘F’ grade on their efforts to tackle plastic pollution

Of the 225 companies included in As You Sow’s latest study, almost half have been given an ‘F’ grade, with the researchers noting a significant gap between companies stated plastic reduction commitments and the actions being taken to meet them.
June 26, 2024

The new research ‘2024 Plastic Promises Scorecard’ from shareholder advocacy group As You Sow has scored 225 leading companies on their response to pollution from plastic packaging, finding that none of them are currently doing enough to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics in their products.

As part of the research As You Sow compiled SEC filings, annual reports and sustainability reports as well as publicly available data for 225 of the world’s most valuable companies (companies with $1billion plus in annual revenue). These businesses represented fifteen different industries and were evaluated on six criteria related to advancing a circular economy for plastic packaging, such as recyclability, reusability and recovery.

Alarmingly, 107 of the 225 businesses scored a lowly ‘F’ grade, and not a single company achieved an ‘A’. While the research discovered that most companies have goals for recyclability, reduction, and recycled content, as well as increasing support for EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) policies, a significant gap exists between companies stated plastic reduction commitments and the actions being taken to meet them. Additionally, the study warns most corporations are not on track to meet the goals they have set, with action not matching ambition.

In particular, despite many companies setting goals for reducing virgin plastic use, businesses continue to see an increase as revenue grows, with the report arguing that virgin plastic reduction goals alone are insufficient. Instead, they suggest that “to decrease plastic use intensity (plastic use per $ of revenue), corporations must substantially increase action across all pillars discussed in this report, including use of recycled content, end-of-life recovery, substitution with reusable packaging, and EPR for a circular economy”[i].

The findings from As You Sow, which were released in mid-June, coincide with news that the U.S. Plastics Pact is pushing its recycling targets back by 5 years to 2030. Founded in 2020 by the Recycling Partnership and the WWF, the Plastics Pact set out several goals for 2025, including defining problematic packaging, and setting a target of achieving an average 30% recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content. The agreement forms part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Plastics Pact Network and to date includes 80 leading brands such as Pepsi Co, Nestle, Danone and Coca Cola.

However, in a recent press release it was stated that the initial targets were part of “a bold initiative to catalyse immediate action in the absence of a federal strategy”[ii] and while the trajectory of the Pact is positive “an ever-changing landscape necessitates an agile and adaptive strategy. You can find out more about the changes, including the new Roadmap 2.0 in our recent insight here.


[i] 2024 Plastic Promises Scorecard — As You Sow

[ii] Kicking the can down the road: U.S. Plastics Pact delays reduction targets by 5 years, pushing them back to 2030 (

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Lauren Foye
Head of Reports

Lauren has extensive experience as an analyst and market researcher in the digital technology and travel sectors. She has a background in researching and forecasting emerging technologies, with a particular passion for the Videogames and eSports industries. She joined the Critical Information Group as Head of Reports and Market Research at GRC World Forums, and leads the content and data research team at the Zero Carbon Academy. “What drew me to the academy is the opportunity to add content and commentary around sustainability across a wealth of industries and sectors.”

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