As a group of leading fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies – The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever – we are committed to respecting the rights of workers in the informal waste sector. We are launching the Fair Circularity Principles today and are calling on others, including FMCG companies, companies from other sectors and businesses across the value chain, to join us.
In many countries, these workers play a substantial and valuable role in the collection, sorting and recycling of packaging waste and other materials. At the same time, they are vulnerable to a broad range of severe human rights impacts – meaning that even as recycling delivers positive environmental impacts, it requires heightened human rights due diligence from companies involved in plastics waste or recycling value chains. To date, however, industries and governments have, as a collective whole, not meaningfully engaged with or effectively addressed social conditions and human rights impacts in this sector. As we work to end plastic pollution – including through supporting the development of an ambitious and effective global treaty – we must also drive towards a fairer circular economy for plastics.
As businesses, we have each been taking steps locally and globally to address social impacts in the informal waste sector. However, we recognize the need for more cohesive and collaborative approaches across the value chain to tackle these impacts effectively. We have worked with Tearfund, a civil society organization advocating for greater recognition of, and respect for the rights of waste pickers, to advance dialogue and collaboration on these issues and to include the perspectives of rights holders. The resources of the International Alliance of Waste Pickers and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) were also key in informing the process.
Our group has, in collaboration with Shift, developed the Fair Circularity Principles. These principles apply the responsibilities outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights to the informal waste sector.
Our four companies have aligned in support of this statement, and the accompanying principles, to demonstrate our commitment to this issue and to encourage wider uptake of the principles and urgent action on them. We will:
- advance and adopt these guiding principles in our value chains, in collaboration with waste picker organizations
- report on our progress annually
- encourage others to join the Fair Circularity Initiative