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.
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.1
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 help 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.
Audrey Choi, Chief Sustainability Officer and CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Investing, added, “Over the last decade, Morgan Stanley and the Institute for Sustainable Investing have focused on harnessing the power of the capital markets to protect the environment and strengthen communities as an integral part of how we do business. The Plastic Waste Resolution continues that commitment by supporting research and thought leadership to enable us to better understand the challenges around plastic waste and the potential solutions; creating sustainable investing strategies to direct capital toward new solutions as they evolve; and encouraging capacity building of the entrepreneurs, innovators and future leaders of finance to help address this issue at a systemic level.”
Clare Woodman, Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Stanley’s operations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, noted, “We’ve seen a groundswell of interest and action from consumers, corporates and policy makers here in the UK and across Europe and the Middle East. This global commitment is an important signal to our clients and stakeholders that we are here to help them meet their plastic waste goals.”
Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres, said “This represents a bold move by Morgan Stanley to focus on a pressing global issue where innovation and creativity in the capital markets can play an important role to bring systemic solutions to scale.”
Jonathan Overpeck, Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan, said, “We are excited to partner with Morgan Stanley to further cutting-edge scholarship to understand not only how plastic flows through our economy, but what innovations, policy changes and business model developments can be the most effective levers in harnessing the benefits of plastic while reducing the negative impacts of plastic waste. This research will help inform the field to make smarter investments that matter and have real, lasting impact.”