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DAVOS

Davos: Plastic companies devise plan to reduce pollution

Forty of the world's biggest companies assembled in Davos agreed on Monday to come up with cleaner ways to make and consume plastic as waste threatens the global ecosystem, especially in oceans.

Davos: Plastic companies devise plan to reduce pollution
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
The plan was announced at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort, where powerful executives are gathering just days ahead of the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president, who views concern about such environmental issues with suspicion.
   
The planet's dangerously polluted oceans will contain more plastic waste than fish by 2050 if urgent action isn't taken, the companies warned. 
   
Answering a call by British sailor and philanthropist Ellen MacArthur, multinationals such as Unilever and Procter and Gamble made a commitment to increase recycling and cut back overall use.
   
Food-to-detergents giant Unilever said it would ensure that all of its plastic packaging “is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025”.
   
The Davos initiative said 20 percent of the world's plastic production could be profitably re-used and a further 50 percent recycled instead of infesting landfills and killing wildlife in the ocean.
   
But even then, “without fundamental redesign and innovation, the remaining 30 percent of plastic packaging (by weight) will never be recycled and the equivalent of 10 billion garbage bags per year will be destined to landfill or incineration”, the WEF said.
   
“The 'New Plastics Economy' initiative has attracted widespread support, and across the industry we are seeing strong initial momentum and alignment on the direction to take,” said MacArthur, who is a regular Davos presence along with celebrities such as Matt Damon.
   
Other companies backing the initiative include Coca-Cola, Danone and Dow Chemical.
   
“Plastics are the workhorse material of the modern economy — with unbeaten properties,” said Martin Stuchtey, a professor for resource management at Innsbruck University in Austria who is working on the programme.
   
“Minor changes in material, format and treatment … can make the economics of recycling viable and take us into a positive spiral of … lower costs and better design,” he said.

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DAVOS

Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May

The World Economic Forum announced Wednesday that its postponed 2021 Davos summit, themed as "The Great Reset" in the coronavirus crisis, will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland from May 18 to 21.

Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May
Participants at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2020. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The annual gathering of the world's political, economic and business elite traditionally takes place in January against the idyllic snowy backdrop of the Swiss Alpine village of Davos.

But it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, charged with remodelling the world economy in the wake of the crisis, will now be held 125 kilometres (75 miles) away in the plush Burgenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne.

“The meeting will take place as long as all conditions are in place to guarantee the health and safety of participants and the host community,” WEF spokesman Adrian Monck said in a statement.

“The meeting will focus on the solutions required to address the world's most pressing challenges. “Global leaders will come together to design a common recovery path, to shape 'The Great Reset' in the post-Covid-19 era and rebuild a more cohesive and sustainable society.”

Hybrid format

The WEF announced in June that the 51st edition of its annual meeting would take place in a hybrid format, then in August said it was being delayed for several months to reduce any risks to participants from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lucerne summit will combine both in-person and virtual elements, with participants linked to a network of around 400 hubs worldwide to incorporate dialogue with the WEF's “young global shapers, to ensure openness and inclusion”, said Monck.

The summit will be preceded during the week of January 25 by digitally-convened high-level “Davos Dialogues”, when global leaders will share their views on the state of the world in 2021.

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1.04 million people while at least 35.5 million infections have been recorded since the outbreak emerged in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The pandemic has also triggered a global economic downturn, though the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that while it is far from over, it will not be as bad as originally feared thanks to a flood of government spending.

The World Trade Organization said likewise, forecasting a global trade contraction of 9.2 percent this year, rather than its previous “optimistic scenario” prediction of 12.9 percent.

But global trade will then grow by only 7.2 percent next year, rather than the previous 21.3-percent estimate issued in April, the WTO added.

Swiss cases rising

The WEF announcement comes as Switzerland announced Wednesday that daily coronavirus cases had jumped over the 1,000-mark for the first time since April 1, when the peak of the pandemic's initial wave began to recede.

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset has urged the country to “get a grip” and be more rigorous in applying the basic measures to control the spread of the virus.

The 2020 edition of the WEF summit, hosted in January just as the world was beginning to become aware of the new coronavirus spreading in China, drew more than 50 heads of state and government to Davos.

It focused on themes of sustainability and finding a more inclusive model for capitalism. US President Donald Trump and Swedish teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg were among its top speakers.

The WEF said it aims to be back in Davos for 2022.

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