80% Cut in Plastic Pollution
According to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme, global plastic pollution rates could go down by 80% by 2040 if appropriate steps are taken. Unnecessary plastics would need to be reduced, while at the same time, the processes of reusing plastics, recycling, and replacing plastics with more eco-friendly alternatives would need to be encouraged. These changes would need to be made primarily by government policies and the plastic industry itself, which would result in a reduction of plastic pollution from 227 million tons to 40 million tons in 2040, as well as trillions of dollars saved by federal governments.
Increasing just the reuse of plastics could decrease plastic pollution by 30% by 2040, while recycling would cut another 20%. Policies to encourage recycling would be taxes on new plastic, the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, and the enforcement of packaging guidelines. Replacing plastic with alternative materials would decrease plastic pollution by another 17%.
The money needed for the shift would amount to around $65bn a year, only half of what is invested by the plastic industry. The 80% cut would save more than $3tn worth of damage, as well as cut 500m tons of CO2 emissions per year. In addition, 700,000 jobs could also be created as a result of this shift.
At home, make sure to reduce, reuse, and recycle, in order to help reduce rates of plastic pollution.