Social procurement and the global fight against plastic waste

Sector Spotlight Report on Plastic Waste: Learn from insights gained from over 60 social businesses

November 8, 2023
Download the report here

While plastic is often touted as an enemy of the environment, it is actually the linear value chains with which industries use plastic that are the root cause of the problem. For example, less than 20% of all recyclable PET plastic waste is collected to be recycled. This means that while the plastic products themselves are reusable, the lack of a proper collection system finds them in landfills and oceans where they add up to the growing global issue that is plastic pollution. 

Social businesses have a key role to play in the global fight against plastic waste, especially given their innovative approaches and their ability to tackle both social and environmental issues at once. For example, social businesses lead the way for protecting and uplifting informal waste pickers that are estimated to manage anywhere between 30 to 80% of waste in cities that are lacking proper waste infrastructures. Despite acting as an important link to a circular value chain for the plastic sector, waste pickers typically face poor working conditions, unstable pay, and social stigma - all of which social businesses work to improve through their impact models. 

Social businesses cannot answer to the global fight against plastic waste alone, they need cross-sector partnerships and shared value models that can help them to scale their solutions. For this reason, Yunus Social Business put together the Social Procurement Sector Spotlight Report on Plastic which condenses the insights gained from over 60 social businesses engaged in plastic waste around the world. With this report, it is our objective to shine a light on the opportunity for corporations to partner with social businesses in tackling plastic waste through social procurement. 

In the report, we identify opportunities for collaboration with social businesses in the sector by surveying their:

  1. Product and service offerings 
  2. Types of plastics worked with 
  3. Impact focus areas 

Contrary to conventional thinking, over 54% of the social businesses surveyed have already supplied to international companies including Unilever, H&M, Caudalie, NIVEA, and The Body Shop, busting the myth that social businesses are small “mom-and-pop” type shops, and instead asserting the fact that social businesses are ready to supply and scale their solutions on a global level.


Gain insights on how to tackle the global fight against plastic waste through social procurement by downloading the report here. 

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