To Transform the Plastic Crisis: Reduce the Amount of Virgin Plastics Produced

(This is part of the series for 7 Main Areas of Focus to Transform the Plastic Crisis)

An image of a 1ft square area on the beach on Clipperton Island

The total production rate in 1950 is now equal to just the annual leakage into the ocean.

The total production rate in 1950 is now equal to just the annual leakage into the ocean — that’s equal to the weight of two Empire State Buildings per month, 24 per year. The number is so large and the million metric ton unit is so foreign to 99.9% of the population that none of us can truly comprehend what this means. Everybody has the idea that “somebody has an eye on it.” Truthfully, do they?

Projected gap in plastic waste generation and disposal — J. Jambeck U of Georgia
  • Incentivize products with higher recycled content — municipalities, businesses, consumers, can all be incentivized when using and purchasing products that have higher recycled content. To provide incentives more investments and subsidies will be required in some markets, like North America, to fund the incentives until the volumes create economies of scale. Feeding the circular economy, once incentives start paying off back in the “purchase” or “manufacture” stage the required subsidies would also go down naturally.
  • Participate in product sharing programs and methods — again this topic is also covered in the previous part of the series — using shared technologies naturally translates to less number of products required, and hence less amount of plastics used and discarded.
  • Tax the use of single-use plastic packaging — governments can step in and play a major role through policy changes. Short of banning all single-use plastics, governments, municipalities, and communities can create programs where single-use packaging is taxed from the manufacturer and retailer for wanting to purchase a cheaper option rather than options without single-use plastic.
  • Incentivize customers and businesses to provide reusable products — is there really any reason that Starbucks is able to serve coffee in only a To Go cup while you sit down to have your coffee? It’s not like they’re providing cheap coffee. Businesses think that not providing reusables and removing the “overhead” for dishwashing is cheaper than just buying and throwing “away” a plastic cup. This again comes from the ignorance of the true cost of something. Even if the $ costing you today is cheaper — you’re paying in higher taxes for removing waste, finding a solution to the plastic problem in water streams, and health implications. There is a true cost — a full life cycle — of these “cheap” materials that need to be considered.
  • Ban the use of single-use plastics — many countries are moving towards this option. Europe has recently just announced banning all single-use plastics in the region. As challenging and difficult as it might seem it is doable. The cultural, behavioral and political factors are major contributors to realizing these bans. Recently, Suffolk County reported that their plastic bag use has gone down by 1.1Billion in one year, since their plastic bag ban in January 2018. 1 Billion bags, in one county, one year. #wereallinthistogether

Ocean Actionist. Circular Economy Consultant. Reuse and Plastic recycling SME. Entrepreneur. Speaker. Underwater Photographer. NYC.

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