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Plastics | 9 September 2021

Material issues - Big Food and the rise of plastic-related risk - Executive summary

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Material issues - Big Food and the rise of plastic-related risk - Executive summary

Increasingly, citizens, scientists and policy makers are in agreement: the planet cannot handle any more plastic.

Plastic packaging has become a public enemy – and the packaged food and drink sector is in the spotlight. Blue chip food manufacturers and grocery retailers (or ‘Big Food’ as we term them in this briefing) face snowballing plastic-related risk. Policymakers are taking action at unprecedented speed, responding to widespread outrage from citizens around the world. The first wave of legal cases on plastic
pollution have now been launched.

Despite legal obligations to disclose material risks to investors and other stakeholders – and in the face of warnings from market specialists, rating agencies, investors and financial institutions reinforcing the materiality of plastic-related risk - many names in Big Food are not reporting information about these risks to stakeholders. These failures could lead to legal action. Big Food is also not doing enough to mitigate these risks by addressing their addiction to single-use plastics, with many treating the issue as a PR problem rather than a serious source of risk to their business.

In this briefing, we take a deep dive into the relevant trends, policies and patterns coming out of Europe on three key aspects of the plastics crisis – waste, climate and health – analysing in turn the regulatory, reputational and liability risks of each one.

The full report is available at: