After a short first-use cycle, 95% of plastic packaging material value, or $80–120 billion annually, is lost to the economy. A staggering 32% of plastic packaging escapes collection systems, generating significant economic costs by reducing the productivity of vital natural systems such as the ocean and clogging urban infrastructure. The cost of such after-use externalities for plastic packaging, plus the cost associated with greenhouse gas emissions from its production, is conservatively estimated at $40 billion annually – exceeding the plastic packaging industry’s profit pool. In future, these costs will have to be covered. In overcoming these drawbacks, an opportunity beckons: enhancing system effectiveness to achieve better economic and environmental outcomes while continuing to harness the many benefits of plastic packaging. The “New Plastics Economy” offers a new vision, aligned with the principles of the circular economy, to capture these opportunities. The New Plastics Economy aims to set an initial direction and contribute to the evidence base by synthesizing information from across many dispersed sources. It assesses the benefits and drawbacks of plastic packaging today, and makes the case for rethinking the current plastics economy. It lays out the ambitions and benefits of the New Plastics Economy – a system aiming to achieve drastically better economic and environmental outcomes. It proposes a new approach and action plan to get there.