Recycling alone will not be enough to stem the tide of a raging worldwide plastic trash crisis, experts said on Friday, urging businesses to decrease their use of plastic and transfer more items to recyclable and refillable packaging.
The experts think that shifting away from single-use plastics and toward systems that allow for reuse are among the options that might help to alleviate the issue; however, major changes to the manufacturing sector are also required.
According to Rob Kaplan, CEO of Circulate Capital, which invests in developing market projects to address the plastic waste challenge, “we will not be able to merely recycle or decrease our way out of it.”
“It is a systems challenge that requires a combination of upstream and downstream solutions,” he said during a panel discussion at the Reuters Next conference.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, the world generates over 300 million tons of plastic garbage each year on an annual basis.
However, fewer than ten percent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled, mostly due to the high expense of collecting and sorting it. The remainder is disposed of by being dumped or buried in landfills, or it is burnt.
As recycling programs struggle to keep up, major consumer goods corporations such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Nestle have begun investing in initiatives to burn plastic trash as fuel in cement kilns, according to a report published by Reuters in September.
Meanwhile, the plastic output is expected to treble by 2040, which many opponents of the industry say is excessive and is the most significant contributor to the massive trash issue that the world is now experiencing.
According to Von Hernandez of the Break Free from Plastic movement, a worldwide coalition pushing for an end to plastic pollution, “recycling can hardly compete with overproduction.”
“What we need are limitations on virgin plastic manufacture,” he remarked on the panel, where he was speaking alongside Kaplan.
Despite the lack of a worldwide regulator or treaty controlling the plastics sector, individual consumers could push companies to adopt the essential changes in corporate behavior and hold corporations responsible for the plastic goods they produce and the well-being of the environment in which they are used.
“Citizens and consumers have the power to persuade these corporations… to publish their worldwide plastic and carbon footprint, cut the quantity of plastic they are making and deploying to the market, and completely redesign their delivery methods,” Hernandez said.