Ausbil steps up with ESG action

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Ausbil Investment Management has become the first Australian company to sign the landmark ‘Investor Declaration on Plastic Pollution’. The global declaration pledges to find solutions to the worldwide problem through corporate commitments, programs and policies.

Måns Carlsson-Sweeny, the head of ESG research at Ausbil, said: “This is an active engagement approach with the major users of plastic to help increase the use of sustainable materials and reduce the reliance on plastics that end up in the environment and our waterways.” Ausbil has published a paper on the subject.

He said: “We believe consumers will drive the demand for change away from unnecessary plastic packaging. There is already a shift by major FMCG’s (fast moving consumer goods companies) and other large users of plastic packaging into recycled content across their packing portfolios, as evidenced by Unilever, Woolworths and Coles in their active commitments to reduce PET plastics in their packaging. Already, FMCG’s that represent 20 per cent of global demand for PET have put into place strategies to move towards 30 per cent PET reductions by 2035.

“The focus on reducing and recycling the impact of plastics in the economy will see other companies and governments re-engineer what they do as part of the circular economy, absorbing these costs into their overall pricing structures.

“A changing regulatory environment will likely benefit recyclers and other companies exposed to managing and recycling Australia’s waste streams. This includes areas such as recycling and recovery technology, chemical recycling such as pyrolysis, and waste to energy.

“As companies respond to the rapidly changing environment, it becomes important to engage and understand how companies are managing capital allocation in an uncertain political future.

“Ausbil is committed to engage in the reduction of plastic and plastic waste across the manufacturing and supply chains of the companies with which we engage on ESG issues.”

Carlsson-Sweeney is an ESG specialist manager. He spoke, for instance, about Australia’s position on “modern slavery” alongside Joey Alcock, Frontier Advisors’ chair of its sustainability committee, at this year’s Frontier Advisors annual conference in Melbourne. Australia has among the most strict laws on modern slavery in the world, with dual Federal and NSW Government legislation. The laws put the onus on investors, as well as others in the supply chain, for responsibility to report breaches.

With respect to plastics, oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050 if no action is taken to reduce their flow into waterways. As the first Australian company to ratify the IDPP, and through our recent commitment to the PSIA, Ausbil will further enhance engagements on plastics, including issues such as targets for reducing the use of virgin plastics, and focus on increasing the recycling and use of recyclable plastics across the companies we monitor. This also includes looking at how plastic waste can sustainably be converted into energy, Carlsson-Sweeney says.

– G.B.

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