The New Plastics Economy - Catalysing Action

Asri Farida Sihaloho | 30 Jul 2020
Global momentum for a fundamental plastics rethink is greater than ever. Plastics have become the ubiquitous workhorse material of the modern economy: combining unrivaled functional properties with low cost, their use has increased twenty fold in the past half-century. While plastics and plastic packaging are an integral part of the global economy and deliver many benefits, their archetypically linear, take-make-dispose value chains entail significant economic and environmental drawbacks. It is only in the past few years that the true extent of these drawbacks has become clear. We now know, more than 40 years after the launch of the first universal recycling symbol, that only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling globally. Each year, USD 80-120 billion plastic packaging material value is lost to the economy. Given projected growth in production, in a business-as-usual scenario, by 2050 oceans could contain more plastics than fish (by weight). Across the entire range of plastic products, not just packaging, concerns are raised about the potential negative impact of certain substances on society and the economy. Businesses and governments are now, for the first time, recognizing the need to fundamentally rethink the global plastics system.
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