Turning off the Tap: How the World Can end Plastic Pollution and Create a Circular Economy

Turning off the Tap: How the World Can end Plastic Pollution and Create a Circular Economy

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released a new report on plastic pollution.

The world produces 430 million metric tons of plastic every year, of which more than two-thirds are short-lived products that become waste after a single use. According to various estimates, the economic damage from plastic pollution ranges from 300 billion to 1.5 trillion US dollars per year.

The authors of the publication propose to change the approach to waste management: reduce the excessive consumption of plastic and develop the concept of a circular economy. The key elements of this approach are:

  • transition from a "disposable economy" to a "reuse economy". The organization estimates that implementing a recycling system will reduce plastic pollution by 30% by 2040
  • development of the recycling market will help reduce plastic pollution by 20% by 2040. Governments are encouraged to create additional economic incentives
  • diversification – use of recyclable plastic or other more environmentally friendly materials, changing consumer demand, creating an appropriate regulatory framework, increasing funding for sustainable projects.

According to UNEP experts, the transition to a new model of production and consumption opens up new economic opportunities (forecast until 2040):

  • creation of up to 700 thousand new jobs
  • more than $1.3 trillion in government spending savings
  • reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 0.5 Gt CO2 per year
  • reducing litigation related to damage from plastic pollution.

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