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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

A New Plastics Economy

A New Plastics Economy

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, August 12, 2016/Categories: wildlife conservation, marine life, sustainability, art and design, environment

     Discarded Plastic Trashbags, Bag-it Man (credit: MountainFilm & SWP Media)

Pollution from plastic trash has become a massive scourge. True to its definition, the waste is 'causing great suffering' to cities, environments, and the oceans worldwide. It is of particular threat to the oceans where vast gyres containing plastics have developed. The plastic pollution ranges in size from microscopic bits, that can enter the food-chain, to floating masses of bags, bottles, and even plastic ducks.

Plastics are manufactured from hydrocarbons and petrochemicals and they can survive in the environment for decades or longer without deteriorating. A report, The New Plastics EconomyRethinking the future of plastics has been published by the Ellen Macarther Foundation that offers a blueprint for designing a more sustainable economy for plastics and the environment.

According to their announcement, the UK-based foundation applied circular economy principles to global plastic packaging flows to transform the current plastics economy into one that would drastically reduce the negative environmental externalities to the oceans from discarded plastics. Several of the report's key findings include:

1. most plastic packaging is used only once; 2. 95% of the value of plastic packaging, worth $80-120 billion annually, is lost to the economy; 3. discarded packaging generates negative externalities to marine environments, wildlife, and fisheries conservatively valued at $40 billion; 4. recycling efforts account for only 2% of currently discarded plastics; 5. and under existing rates of plastic consumption, the oceans would contain more plastics (in weight) than fish by 2050.

The new report also offers suggestions for building a more sustainable future by including innovative technological "moon shots" for creating a circular economy. The job opportunities avilable are a big as the environmental problem.


                 Technological Innovations for Plastics "Moon Shots"  (credit: Macarthur Foundation)  

The complete report is available for downloading here.



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