Editorial: New Plastics Economy

ACCORDING to a report by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation entitled “The new plastics economy: Rethinking the future of plastics”, at least eight million tons of plastics leak into the ocean each year. Today, available research shows that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean.

The report states that this “is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute.”

“If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050. Estimates suggest that plastic packaging represents the major share of this leakage,” the report states.

The report adds, “In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every every tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight).

While some of us may not live to see that day, it is scary to think that our future children will be looking for food in an ocean filled plastic! That is if there are still marine resources surviving by that time.

In a bid to prevent this from happening, the reports suggests implementing or practicing a New Plastics Economy, wherein “plastics never become waste; rather, they re-enter the economy as valuable technical or biological nutrients.”

“Its ambition is to deliver better system-wide economic and environmental outcomes by creating an effective after-use plastics economy, drastically reducing the leakage of plastics into natural systems (in particular the ocean) and other negative externalities; and decoupling from fossil feedstocks,” the report states.

It added that with the current technology we have today, it is possible that some of these solutions to the problem on plastics can be “partially realized.”

Plastics have become “integral and important” in not only our daily lives but also in the global economy. It would be hard to drastically reduce the use of the material especially for its packaging benefits.

However, the report’s recommendation of a New Plastics Economy may provide a solution to a problem that has been worsening in recent years. It is important to note that these possible solutions to the plastic problem may only be realised if the government and policy makers have the will to protect our environment.


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