According to a recent report released by the United Nations Environment Programme, global plastic pollution could be reduced by 80% by 2040 if countries make deep policy shifts and market transitions that take full advantage of existing technologies. The report highlights the direction of action and change needed to develop a circular economy, and calls on countries to take active measures to strengthen plastic pollution control.
Plastic pollution is one of the world's most concerned environmental issues. According to data released by the United Nations, more than 400 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year, and about 10 million tons of plastic waste flows into the ocean. In March this year, the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly held in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, adopted the draft Resolution to End Plastic Pollution, proposing the establishment of an intergovernmental negotiating committee to reach an international legally binding agreement by 2024 to promote the comprehensive governance of global plastic products in production, design, recycling and disposal.
Unep encourages countries to actively develop relevant policies, such as further promoting the use of sustainable, compostable and biodegradable materials, financial support for recycled materials, and financial incentives for recycling plants. In recent years, more and more countries have issued "plastic ban orders" to strengthen the control of plastic products. For example, France has introduced the "Anti-Waste Law for a circular Economy" to promote the realization of national ecological transformation goals by gradually reducing the use of single-use plastic products, promoting the development of alternative and reusable materials, banning single-use plastic packaging, and promoting the sale of non-packaging.
The report also puts forward three market reform recommendations, namely "reuse", "recycling", "repositioning and product diversification". Reuse, which includes the use of recyclable bottles, deposit return programs and packaging recycling programs, is expected to reduce plastic pollution by 30 percent by 2040. "Recycling," which includes removing fossil fuel subsidies and designing enforcement guidelines to improve recyclability, could increase the share of recyclable plastic from 21% to 50%. If recycling profits increase, the world could reduce plastic pollution by another 20% by 2040. "Repositioning and product diversification", i.e. an additional 17% reduction in plastic pollution through the use of alternative materials such as paper or compostable materials.
"The way we produce, use and dispose of plastics is polluting ecosystems, posing risks to human health and destabilising the climate." UN Environment Programme Executive Director Inge Arnolsen said the report sets out a roadmap to make ecosystems, human health and more safe from plastic by developing a circular economy. "If we follow this road map, we can make important progress in economic, social and environmental development."