Plastic, an influential part of modern society, is under scrutiny for its polluting presence in the global environment. There are visible and invisible pollutants. Greater awareness and growing ethical concerns about plastic waste is evident with circular thinking initiatives to design out surplus plastics, improve recovery and re-use apparent. Current pressures are an opportunity to tackle plastic waste and advance towards zero-litter. Mindful consumption of plastic is a global responsibility.
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Plastic holds an influential role in shaping modern society, evident through its widespread application and growth in use from across medicine and construction to packaging for everyday consumer purchases. It is hard to imagine living without plastic
Concern about the sustainability of plastic is rising, elevated by knowledge of the huge volumes of plastic waste amassing in the environment, garnering much attention across the media with governments, NGOs and industry announcing initiatives targeting plastic.
Plastic consumption and pollution levels are highest in populous developing areas of Asia and Africa where there is a lack of public awareness of the global harm that disposing of waste in local land and waterways has and lack of formal waste infrastructure.
Because of its short lifespan and noticeable presence as litter, single-use plastic is under close scrutiny. Recycling and re-cyclability pose concerns for consumers with action sought. Out-of-home consumption presents challenges on recycling, indicating need for improved recovery. There are also important invisible pollutants to address.
A global value chain re-think on plastic, from design through to recovery to re-use also presents opportunities. Progress is being made on recovery and recycling and with alternatives. There is more to do, to assail the volumes of waste. A circular economy philosophy is part of this, so that plastic can have multiple lives. Advances require commitment, from manufacturers’ designs to consumers’ recycling behaviour.
A zero-waste society is the goal. Reaching this through mindful use and infrastructure investment can procures sustainable and economic gain. Greater recovery, recycling and re-use are key to improve plastic’s eco-credentials. Responsible handling is a global duty,of governments, NGOs, corporate players and citizens, for the protection of our planet.