Accelerating the shift towards a global circular economy for the benefit of people and planet. 

In the past six years, globally, we have consumed over half a trillion tonnes of materials. 

The linear economy follows a destructive use-it and throw-it away model. It depletes our natural resources, contributes to catastrophic levels of pollution, and 'built to break' business practices leave consumers paying out of pocket for products with dwindling lifespans. 

At present, only 7.2 per cent of the global economy is 'circular'. There is a huge ($4.7 trillion) opportunity for innovative actors to pave the way towards a greener planet. 

Bold action is needed - and Consumers International is leading the way. We work with forward-thinking industry leaders, governments, and civil society to advance circularity solutions which protect and empower consumers. 

 

 

Consumer protection within a circular economy

Our vision

  • Options available to consumers are manufactured using renewable energy and sustainable, resilient agricultural systems. 
  • Consumers see savings through longer product life-spans and more durable materials. 
  • New green jobs are created through the implementation of policies and business models, multiplying the existing recycling and upcycling infrastructure. 
  • Consumer rights are strengthened through clear and credible information, right-to-repair, and affordable access to safe and sustainable alternatives. 
  • Effective waste-management and alternatives to pollutants and toxic materials help create a cleaner, greener, and more biodiverse world. 

Representing the consumer voice on plastic pollution

Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing sustainability challenges facing people and planet, causing catastrophic damage to our health, wildlife, oceans, and food supply. By 2040, it has been predicted that the plastic pollution on earth will weigh up to 1.3 billion tonnes

Nearly 200 countries are currently negotiating a global treaty to tackle plastic pollution. Consumers International is bringing the perspectives and insights of our 200+ membership of consumer organisations to negotiations for an international legally binding agreement to reduce plastic pollution. With proposed solutions requiring significant changes in consumer behaviour, meaningful involvement from consumer groups is essential to securing consumer buy-in and support. 

Our key priorities for a treaty that protects and empowers consumers

  1. Alignment with the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection.
  2. Non-plastic alternatives are accessible, available, and affordable to consumers.
  3. Consumers are provided with adequate and transparent information about plastic products and packaging.
  4. Definitive targets and timelines for the reduction of plastic pollution. 
  5. The treaty has legally binding language throughout which ensures government and business are held accountable. 

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Uniting our global network 

In 2021, new research showed that the flow of plastic materials into the ocean was set to triple by 2040. The world was also reckoning with the ways COVID-19 had increased our dependency on single-use plastics, like masks, gloves, and food packaging.

That's why, for World Consumer Rights Day 2021, we united consumer organisations with leading international organisations, business, and government in a global campaign to tackle plastic pollution. 

Campaign highlights: 

  • We developed a new framework, called the 7Rs for Waste Management; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Replace, Rethink, Refuse. 
  • Over 70 consumer groups carried out campaigns, from advocating to policy-makers and businesses, to workshops on sustainable packaging. 
  • Collectively, we reached over 31 million consumers. 
  • In a series of insightful virtual discussions, we linked up with leaders and experts from Ocean Conservancy, The Body Shop, Greenpeace, and SYSTEMIQ to discuss the essential role of consumers in driving progress towards a more sustainable planet. 

 

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Leading insights for sustainable packaging

We develop unique insights on complex sustainability challenges.

The rise of single-use packaging is having a disastrous effect on the environment - and yet it is a staple of daily life for consumers around the world. In recent years, we have focussed on finding solutions to this challenge. 

Can I recycle this?

November 2020

Consumers want to reduce their consumption of plastics but the information provided to them is not always clear, actionable or credible. This leads to confusion and mistrust. 

This research provided a global mapping of existing standards, labels and claims on plastic packaging. We found that only 19% of labels assessed gave consumers quality information that could support informed recycling and purchasing. 

The report provides practical action points for businesses, governments and standard setting bodies to improve the landscape of consumer information on plastic packaging and reduce confusion.

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The Consumer Lens on Packaging

April 2021

On Earth Day 2021 we came together with nine of our Members to demonstrate the consumer experience of sustainable packaging across popular global household products.  

The research found that consumers in all nine countries are unable to easily recycle all of the products assessed in practice, with misleading, unclear, and confusing labelling appearing on all tested products. 

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

The Circular Economy Expert Group

Led by Consumers International, the Circular Economy Expert Group convenes leaders across business, policy-making, environmental organisations, and local communities. Together, we work to advance discussion that ensures consumers are at the centre of circular economy solutions. 

The Group works to co-create and scale circularity initiatives that remove barriers and empower consumers to take actionWe explore issues including:  

  • Product-life extension 
  • Reconditioning activities 
  • Waste prevention 
  • Increasing consumer awareness of and involvement in the circular economy  

 

To learn more, contact impact@consint.org

Our members' work on circular solutions

CAG (India) are critical partners within our Plastics Treaty delegation, providing technical expertise and coordinating our interventions. 

IDEC (Brazil) led a "Stop the Plastic Tsunami" campaign to curb plastic production and consumption, coming together with a range of organisations to build support for policy reform. 

CERC (India) are expert advisors to the Indian Ministry of Environment on issues of circularity, such as waste management and plastic pollution.  

Danish Consumer Council runs the THINK Chemicals initiative. The initiative tests and reports on products to help consumers avoid unwanted chemicals, especially those often found in plastic products.  

News & Upcoming Events

Latest blog: 

Most of us know that plastic pollution is everywhere. It's one of the most pressing sustainability challenges facing people and planet. But how many of us know that it's in the food we eat and the air we breathe? That plastic might not be as safe as we think? That alternatives are out there? In this blog, our Sustainable Consumption Specialist talks through three major misconceptions holding us back from the fight against plastic pollution. 

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COP16 on Biodiversity

COP16 will be held in Colombia on 21 October - 1 November 2024. 

At the Conference, governments will be tasked with reviewing the state of implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. 

To connect with Consumers International at this important moment for biodiversity, contact impact@consint.org

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Global Plastics Treaty 

In the coming months, ahead of critical intersessional work prior to the 5th round of negotiations, we will engage with key stakeholders, partners and state delegations to advocate for essential policy and market shifts to reduce plastic pollution by 80% - all while supporting consumers and businesses to overcome the challenges related to affordability and accessibility.

To connect with us at INC-5 in Busan, Republic of Korea, contact impact@consint.org

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news

Green Action Fund: Consumers International supports community-led sustainability initiatives across the world

Today, we announce that 26 Members of Consumers International will be awarded funding through the Green Action Fund to promote sustainable consumption and reduce poverty.

Every year, through our Green Action Fund, we help to showcase practical, creative, and collaborative ways that consumers can embrace sustainable consumption practices, through the power of Sharing Community.

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blog

Three common misconceptions holding back the fight against plastic pollution

I recently had the privilege of representing Consumers International at the 4th meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4) - where member states are tasked with a monumental challenge - to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.

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Our Latest Publication

Unlocking Consumer Action for Food Systems Transformation

 

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