Plastic waste, what’s the issue?
We have all heard about harmful use of plastic, especially single-use plastic. Do we realise though, the cause and effect that the current situation with the continuous use of plastic can have?
Let’s start from the past
Plastics weren’t always an integral part of our lives. From the 1950s through the 1970s, plastic waste wasn’t an issue since the produced amount of plastic was small and relatively manageable. However, since the 1970s plastic production increased rapidly over the decades, to the extent that in the beginning of the 2000s, according to the UN Environmental Programme the plastic waste increased more in a single decade than it had in the last 40 years.
Fast forward to today
Fast forward to today, yearly, we produce about 400 million tonnes of plastic. If the current rates of growth continue, worldwide primary plastic production is expected to reach 1,100 million tonnes by 2050.
Half of all plastic production is intended for single-use, being used once and then discarded. Approximately 36% of plastic production is used for the purpose of packaging, especially single-use plastics that are used for the distribution of food and beverages. Additionally, 85% of these plastics are ending up in landfills or as unregulated waste.
We might not even have noticed however, observing the amount of single use plastics that pass through our households in a week, we can see how big the problem is.
Undeniably, plastic has advantages and not all plastics are bad. The material is inexpensive, lightweight, and simple to manufacture. We are already reaching the peak of the problem and we are struggling to manage the plastic waste. The consequences in the future seem to be devastating for our lives and the environment unless we start to redefine the manufacture, use and manage of plastics.
Tackling the problem as individuals, UN Environmental Programme suggests bringing our own coffee mug to work, urging restaurant to stop single use plastics and putting pressure on our local government to change they way of handling waste.
It sounds simple, right? Let’s be part of a more sustainable world, and keep in mind our impact on society and the environment in our daily actions as consumers.
Plastic Free Europe:
Dreaming about a better world with less plastics, Plastic Free Europe was created to provide single-use plastic alternatives to businesses and the public. Plastic Free Europe aims to be the bridge to a more sustainable future, reducing the usage of single-use plastics and replacing them with more environmentally friendly materials.
Do you want to be part of the change?
Visual Feature | Beat Plastic Pollution
Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while 500 billion single-use plastic…
Cowan, E., Booth, A. M., Misund, A., Klun, K., Rotter, A., Tiller, R.. Single-Use Plastic Bans: Exploring Stakeholder Perspectives on Best Practices for Reducing Plastic Pollution. Environments 2021, 8, 81. https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8080081