In just over half a century, plastics have become pervasive throughout the economy, due to their versatility and cost-effectiveness. Yet alongside clear benefits, today’s plastics system has significant drawbacks. This need not be the case, however.
As much as 20% of plastic packaging could be profitably re-used and 50% of plastic packaging could be profitably recycled if improvements are made to design and after-use systems. The remaining 30% of plastic packaging (by weight), equivalent to 10 billion garbage bags per year, is currently by design destined for landfill or incineration, and requires fundamental redesign and innovation; otherwise it will never be recycled.
The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action provides a tangible plan for the global plastics industry to take action across all types of plastic packaging, to design better packaging, increase recycling rates, and introduce new models for making better use of packaging.