Third-Party Verification: Ensuring transparency and accountability

May 4, 2023
Alejandra Dueñas
x min read

Plastic collection and recycling projects are a fantastic way to reduce the amount of plastic in the environment and prevent it from reaching it in the first place. More and more organisations, including companies, NGOs, and passionate individuals, are setting up these plastic collection projects to end plastic pollution. And although these efforts are fantastic, it is essential to do them correctly, following best practices to ensure both environmental and social sustainability.

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This is particularly important when you engage in the plastic credits space. Generating and purchasing plastic credits needs to be done following best practices and third-party verified and accredited with certifications set by Verra or Zero Plastic Oceans.These standards ensure that the plastic collected or recycled meets the highest quality and ethical standards.

By complying with these standards, you can ensure that the plastic credits generated from the plastic collection and recycling projects accurately quantify the amount of plastic collected from the environment, target relevant locations–where plastic pollution is prominent–and follow national regulations and labour laws. While each standard has its specific requirements, the following criteria are generally considered important when generating plastic credits:

• Accurate: The project must have a correct methodology to accurately quantify and monitor plastic collection and/or recycling activities and use conservative assumptions to prevent overestimation.

Additional: The project must exceed the most likely “business-as-usual” scenario and demonstrate that plastic waste collection and/or recycling activities would not occur without revenue from the sale of plastic credits.

Traceable: The project must be registered on the certification programme’s registry and assigned a unique serial number on each credit generated to prevent double counting of collected and/or recycled plastic waste. The registry and relevant information related to the credits must be disclosed appropriately.

• Third-party Verified: The project proponents must contract an approved third-party auditor to confirm that the project design meets the selected programme criteria.

Legal: The project must acquire national government permissions and fulfil the necessary social requirements.

• Waste Treatment: The project must ensure that the plastic waste collected does not return to the environment and is sent to appropriate end-of-life treatments.

These characteristics ensure that plastic credits have a positive impact and are both environmentally sustainable and socially responsible, so everyone involved benefits from the plastic collection and recycling projects.

Third-party certification is important when engaging in the plastic market because it provides an independent and objective evaluation of the impact of the projects and their contribution to the environment and local communities. This can also be highly beneficial in preventing greenwashing or any claims that may not entirely reflect the impact that is being generated.

In addition, by obtaining third-party certification, the plastic credit projects can demonstrate that it has been evaluated and that the plastic credits generated are traceable and transparent.

It is important to note that it is still a relatively new market. Although the plastic credit industry has made significant progress in recent years to establish itself as a credible and effective solution to address plastic pollution and funding waste management, it is still under development. The absence of global standards and regulations around generating and purchasing plastic credits means that despite some organisations’ best efforts to set these standards and third-party verification, these practices are still not widely adopted. Nevertheless, ongoing efforts are underway to ensure that obtaining third-party certification becomes common practice, that the market continues to evolve, and that everyone engaged in this space is doing it correctly.

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At Seven Clean Seas, all of our projects are third-party verified by the Ocean Bound Plastic Standard by ZPO, and we are currently working on obtaining verification from the Plastic Waste Reduction Standard by Verra. This ensures we follow best practices, generate best-in-class credits, and contribute to pushing the market forward.

We also assist companies in their fight against plastic pollution by providing end-to-end support. Our team works with businesses to measure plastic consumption across their products, operations, and supply chains. We then help them identify and implement effective measures to reduce plastic usage. When eliminating plastic is not feasible, we offer offsetting solutions to mitigate the impact of unavoidable plastic waste. This funds our plastic collection projects and ensures plastic reduction across the entire supply chain. Our long-term goal is to create both upstream and downstream impact–thereby turning off the tap on plastic.

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