Collaborative Leadership for Tackling Ocean Plastic Pollution
Updated: Jun 4
Photo: Ana Raquel Campos.
Sustainability has got to be something that we all care about. We need groups to collaborate that never have… everybody’s got to work together. We need to begin to manage this planet as if our life depended on it — because fundamentally, it does.
— JASON CLAY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, WWF for Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability, MITSloan Management Review 2015.
The plastic pollution crisis in Norway is a global matter affecting people and the planet. Over 9 million metric tonnes of plastic are being dumped in our oceans every year, which is equivalent to around 1.4 million plastic bottles leaking into the ocean every minute. This requires collaborative leadership to drive circular transformation and work with different stakeholders in order to create systemic solutions, even if they are our competitors.
Businesses are becoming more aware of their social and environmental responsibility. Just recently over 80% of DuPont’s investors voted for plastic pollution transparency and demanded the chemical giant to disclose the data on the diversity of its employees. Many companies are already making a commitment to tackle plastic pollution, such as the Norwegian company, TOMRA, where their reverse vending machines has managed to collect 94% of PET bottles from Norway; and Unilever who has pledged to capture more plastic waste than it produces.
Unilever’s CEO, Alan Jope said, “Our plastic is our responsibility and so we are committed to collecting back more than we sell, as part of our drive towards a circular economy.”
With more investors taking on the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and also seeing financial returns, we would expect more companies to be asked about their role in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Companies will need to incorporate sustainability at the core of their business strategy.
There is a collective responsibility to tackle marine plastic pollution, and it takes collaborative leaders to align all stakeholders along the plastic supply value chain to come together and commit to a common goal. This is in no way an easy task. Collaborative leaders need to navigate organisations’ corporate culture and individual people’s needs, as well as putting aside competitive attitudes and build trust with all partners to find solutions together. Trust and communication are key.
Collaborative leadership works to break down top-down management and silos within companies by encouraging access to information, different perspectives, collective intelligence, connectiveness and collective responsibility. This can also extend to working with people outside of the companies too.
According to the report, Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability, MITSloan Management Review 2015, “Boosting brand reputation, improving product and service innovation, fostering market transformation and mitigating risk are the most important drivers of sustainability-related collaborations.”
With that in mind - Collaboration, before competition, is necessary to make change happen. This is why at Ogoori, we believe in partnerships for goals (SDG 17). On Global Goals website, it stated “To build a better world, we need to be supportive, empathetic, inventive, passionate, and above all, cooperative.” Ogoori’s sustainable value chain network involves many actors, such as beach cleanup organisations, plastic producers, designers, manufacturers, brands and consumers. Therefore, our partners are taking collective responsibility with us. Through the use of collaborative leadership, this is possible.
If you want to join our sustainable value chain network, email Larissa Slottet, firstname.lastname@example.org.