first developed in the 19th century, plastic soared in the 20th century, with productions increasing from 2 million metric tons in 1950 to 348 million metric tons in 2017. valued at US$522.6 billion, the plastic industry is expected to double in capacity again by 2040, something that will evidently result in more plastic pollution, particularly the amount of plastic in the ocean, which could total somewhere close to 150 million metric tons.
a new report published by pew charitable trusts and titled breaking the plastic wave — a comprehensive assessment of pathways towards stopping ocean plastic pollution states the world needs to implement drastic measures to stop plastic from reaching our oceans by 2050 giving us roughly 29 years to save the ocean.
the breaking the plastic wave report is a global analysis using first-of-its kind modeling, showing that we can cut annual flows of plastic into the ocean by about 80% in the next 20 years by applying existing solutions and technologies. no single solution can achieve this goal; the only way to do it is by taking immediate, ambitious, and concerted actions. regulations currently focus on specific items, recycling or disposing, but the study suggests efforts are also needed to eliminate its use.
the study suggests that to prevent plastic from entering the oceans, we need to reduce plastic use, find substitutes for it, improve our recycling practices, expand waste collection, and prevent plastic leakage from disposable facilities. if these solutions are applied, the study says we could reduce about 80% of the annual flow of plastic into the ocean by 2040. it’s true that many technologies already exist to address this challenge, but what we are missing is the infrastructure, policies, business processes and financing. the idea is for there to be a shift in the investment away from the production of new plastic towards the development of reuse and refill systems, sustainable substitute materials, better recycling facilities, more collection infrastructure, and new delivery methods.
‘breaking the plastic wave will require every nation to do its part, but in different ways. middle- and low-income countries should focus on expanding collection of plastic waste, maximizing reduction and substitution, investing in sorting and recycling infrastructure, and reducing leakage from waste sites. high-income countries should incentivize reductions in plastic usage, boost recycling rates, end exports of plastic waste, and address microplastic leakage.’
read the full report here.
juliana neira I designboom
jul 21, 2021