How does producing plastics benefit the economy?

Benefits of not using plastic

The use of plastic is unsustainable and is a clear example of the impacts of the throwaway culture. Therefore, we must go to the source of the problem and, first, reduce the amount of plastic that is put into circulation and then go for reuse. There is already a growing movement of people around the world who are committing to a lifestyle free of single-use plastics.

It calls on supermarkets to eliminate plastic packaging in their fruit and vegetables, to provide sustainable alternatives for buying their food products and to encourage bulk sales.

Use of plastic today

Last January 19, during the World Economic Forum held in Davos, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation together with the McKinsey Center for Business and the Environment, presented the report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics”. Beyond the widespread media reports threatening that by 2050 there will be more plastics in the sea than fish, this report presents an interesting insight into the global flows of plastic packaging. It provides an estimate of the economic benefits of shifting from a typical linear model to a circular economy model.

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However after a first cycle of use, 95% of the value of plastic packaging, between US$80 to US$120 billion, is lost from the economy. And over 32% of the plastic waste escapes from the clean-up systems and “leaks”, ending up in the environment. This generates significant economic costs.

The linear consumer goods system sends more than US$2.6 trillion worth of goods to landfills and incineration plants every year. Switching to a circular model would generate an economic opportunity of US$706 billion, a significant portion of which would be attributed to packaging material.

Recycling plastic helps a country’s economy and ecological balance.

In addition, each of the PA countries has been actively involved in promoting national strategies on plastic products and packaging, setting targets and developing regulations such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), innovative recycling mechanisms such as “e-Coins” and Circular Economy programs. .

However, these initiatives may not be sufficient considering the proliferation of plastic pollution and limited household waste management infrastructure. This shared understanding within the Palestinian Authority must now lead to coordinated regional action on plastics for which greater regulatory convergence is critical.

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1. Facilitation of material flows: the wide variety of plastic material has led local governments and industry to unnecessarily dispose of materials as “scrap” at the national level. These materials could be valorized in other PA countries if barriers to transfer were removed, a particularly urgent issue in light of the Basel Convention Ban.

Disadvantages of plastic on the environment

Photo: djedj at unsplashThe management of plastic waste and the transition to a sustainable model of production and consumption is a challenge faced by societies and governments around the world and became particularly relevant during the pandemic.

This problem is not new. Historically, the production of this material emerged in the 19th century from experimentation with macromolecules such as resins and artificial fibers. It proved successful and was widely used throughout the 20th century as a low-cost multipurpose material. Its rise went hand in hand with mass consumption logics, allowing access to a variety of products by vulnerable populations in conditions of marginalization, income inequality and exposure to climatic and social emergencies.

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However, despite their great benefits, plastics also caused a problem that went from being silent to an imminent reality. The growing use of this versatile material has led to an overflowing accumulation of waste whose long decomposition times, coupled with the lack of management systems, cause it to end up as debris in soils, rivers and oceans. In fact, studies conclude that plastic should be considered as part of the earth’s geological processes.