In a very optimistic statement, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has stated that ‘Global plastic pollution could be slashed by 80% by 2040’. It admits that the changes needed are major, but are also practical and affordable.
The report says that ‘the first step is to eliminate unnecessary plastics, such as excessive packaging. The next steps are to increase the reuse of plastics, such as refillable bottles, boost recycling and replace plastics with greener alternatives.
Such a shift, driven by government policies and changes in the plastic industry, would mean plastic pollution would drop to about 40m tons in 2040, rather than 227m tons if no action is taken.
The changes would bring benefits worth trillions of dollars between now and 2040, by reducing the damage caused by plastics to health, the climate, and the environment.’
All of this is possible but I doubt there is the political will to tackle the oil companies that produce the plastic nurdles and the manufacturers that produce the plastic into an economy that seems to be set up to run on plastic.
Ironically much of the population would welcome change but this Government has failed to produce a plastic strategy.
It has been very slow to introduce extended producer responsibility whose rollout is in 2024.
It has held back on deposit return schemes that would scour our streets of plastic and glass bottles as their return for recycling would be incentivised.
Plastic recycling rates are falling and not increasing so more is being incinerated.
So, we are left to small local initiatives which have an admirable local benefit whilst we sink in plastic on our streets, in our rivers and beaches which face a double whammy – plastic mixed with sewage!
Both have been solvable problems for a long time but we need a level of Government action and better regulation to make it happen!
More details: here.