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  • Writer's pictureGiada Ferraglioni and Sergio Colombo

PCX Solutions Releases Updated Plastic Credit Standard, Mandates Third-Party Verification

Philippines-headquartered credit standard PCX Solutions has released an updated version of its plastic credit programme, formally mandating third-party verification and ruling out landfill activities of eligible projects.


The eighth version of the Plastic Pollution Reduction Standard (PPRS), released on Wednesday, contains several changes compared to the previous version, including new guidance on claims.


Under the updated standard, any further certification of claims surrounding "net zero plastic waste" will be put on hold until a global mechanism is established.


"While we maintain that the methodology used to certify those claims was sound, we also recognise that there has been no global consensus on the terminologies surrounding 'net zero' for plastic," the document said.


The standard now formally requires a validation verification body (VVB) for both project registration and credit issuance, though the company said it already operated with third-party auditors under the seventh version of the PPRS.


"We already have a list of verified VVBs, and the project developers can choose one of them," Stefanie Beitien, managing director of PCX Solutions, told Carbon Pulse.


Under the verification process, developers must meet criteria such as additionality and credit ownership, traceability, transparency, and the safeguard systems that aim to protect the people involved in waste management projects.

Source: PCX Solutions


To date, PCX works with 29 projects in seven markets around the world, with a potential capacity of 250,000 metric tonnes of cleanup.


As of the end of Mar. 2024, projects registered under PPRS had diverted 87,842 metric tonnes of plastic waste from nature, the company said.


QUALITATIVE ADDITIONALITY

As Beitien stressed, one of the key updates is the introduction of the qualitative additionality criteria.


While quantitative additionality refers to proof that the project's impact would not have occurred without the financing provided by credits, qualitative criteria aim to highlight the standard's social and economic benefits.


For instance, a project could demonstrate either quantitative additionality by showing new or increased collection or recycling rates, or qualitative improvements, such as increased wages for workers.


"Projects can now prove additionality by providing, for example, better wages, better health care, and other social benefits beyond what's required by the law, which is the baseline," Beitien said.


"Plastic credits can support the operational costs of projects and allow them to provide stable employment," Beiten added.


Examples of qualitative additionality include:

  • Increased wages or incremental income to workers and/or members of the supply chain

  • Inclusion of social security benefits (health and others) above what is legally mandated

  • Inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable groups, such as impoverished groups, Indigenous people, and women.

  • Increased livelihood opportunities for frontline communities and vulnerable groups.


END-TO-END PLASTIC UNITS

Under the PPRS, a unit is equal to one metric tonne of plastic waste recycled and collected, with the project developers responsible for setting the prices.


The prices of plastic credits listed on the PCX marketplace are variable, ranging from $106 to $804 per unit.


"Our credits are end-to-end," Beitien said. "That means that they must incorporate collection, transport, and processing of different sorts."

Figure 1: Plastic credit conversion example.


The updated standard doesn't allow landfill activities anymore, Beitien said, with PCX claiming that it does not consider the practice a viable processing option due to potential leakage and competition over land use.


"We haven't been doing that anyway, but this is now formalised in the standard: credits can only be linked to collection or recycling activities," she added.


As the global plastic credit market evolves quickly, environmental standards such as PCX, Verra, and Plastic Bank are pushing to include units in the UN plastic treaty, which is currently under negotiation.


"Plastic credits are playing an increasingly important role in the plastics treaty, and they are being recognised as a crucial financing mechanism," Beitien said.


"They represent an immediate possibility to channel funding into waste management, but in order to be officially recognised within policy discussions we need robust standards, and ours has been designed from a developing country perspective, which is extremely important."


The fifth and last round of the UN plastic talks is scheduled to be held over Nov. 25-Dec. 1 in Busan, South Korea.


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