Morgan Stanley launches initiatives to reduce plastic waste

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 The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing (the Institute) announced the Morgan Stanley Plastic Waste Resolution to develop and scale systemic solutions to tackle the global challenge of growing amounts of plastic waste. With this initiative Morgan Stanley plans to prevent, reduce, and remove 50 million metric tons of plastic waste from rivers, oceans, landscapes and landfills by 2030.

Since plastic came into widespread use just over 50 years ago, it has become an ubiquitous part of the modern economy and everyday life, due to its versatility, portability, flexibility and resulting convenience. However, the ensuing rapid accumulation of plastic waste poses significant challenges. More than 75 percent of the amount of plastic manufactured each year is thrown away, the vast majority of it ending up in rivers, oceans, landscapes and landfills where it slowly disintegrates, often eventually entering the food chain and water supply.

Addressing this problem in a meaningful way requires strategic thinking and investments across the full value chain of how plastics are engineered, manufactured, used, reused, recycled and ultimately disposed of. The Plastic Waste Resolution is designed to engage all relevant stakeholders to collaborate in designing, innovating, financing and deploying effective, scalable solutions, so as to retain the beneficial qualities of plastic while reducing the negative effects of plastic waste.

“At Morgan Stanley, we are committed to leveraging our best thinking; our broad capital markets reach; our relationships with innovators, entrepreneurs, corporations and governments; and our ongoing commitment to our communities to address this daunting challenge at a systemic level,” said Tom Nides, Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley.

The Morgan Stanley Plastic Waste Resolution represents a thematic focus by the Institute to catalyze, support and help scale the innovations and business-based solutions to reduce plastic waste. By 2030, these efforts will prevent, reduce and remove at least 50 million metric tons of plastic waste entering our rivers, oceans, landscapes and landfills.

The Plastic Waste Resolution’s first major commitments include:

  • Morgan Stanley Global Capital Markets will underwrite bonds to reduce plastic waste, such as the recently launched bond for Sustainable Development with the World Bank. The bond highlights to investors the critical work being done by the World Bank to reduce plastic waste in oceans, and to support the sustainable use of marine resources in developing countries.
  • Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Equities Division will explore the creation of structured and other products that aim to consider and help address the plastic waste challenge.
  • Morgan Stanley Investment Management will seek to develop products which consider the risks and opportunities from plastic waste, across both public and private market funds.
  • Morgan Stanley Public Finance will work with municipalities, public agencies, universities, hospital systems and other public and not-for-profit entities to finance improvements to collection, recycling and disposal systems for plastic waste.
  • Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management will offer a suite of low minimum portfolio strategies across the risk spectrum that seek to positively influence the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on ocean conservation.
  • Morgan Stanley Research continues to invest in Sustainability Research and will pursue cutting-edge analysis of the plastics economy, the investment opportunities associated with plastic waste reduction, and plastic waste as a material sustainability issue.
  • The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing will focus thought leadership efforts on how investors can consider plastic waste reduction and the new plastics economy into their strategies. Today, the Institute is releasing a white paper on the intersection of plastic-waste reduction and finance.
  • Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, which supports early stage technology and technology-enabled startups led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs, will include a call for proposals in next year’s cohort for innovations focused on plastic waste reduction.
  • Morgan Stanley will partner with the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) to establish the Plastic Waste Reduction Fellowship for graduate students at the University of Michigan that explores systemic approaches and solutions that can reduce plastic waste, in particular, ways the capital markets and investment opportunities can accelerate and scale those solutions. The research will help identify the constraints and opportunities associated with the technology, policy and market drivers that influence plastics flows in the global economy.
  • The Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge, that each year calls on next-generation innovators to develop their best ideas for scalable, sustainable investing strategies, will add a new award in 2020 for an innovative investment approach that aims to address plastic waste reduction.
  • In its own operations, Morgan Stanley is removing all single-use plastics.

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