A study on the journal Science estimated, the amount of plastic produced annually has been climbing fast since 1950, when global production totaled 2 million tons. In 2017, that number was 348 million tons and is expected to double again by 2040. The amount of plastic waste flowing into the ocean and killing marine life could triple in the next 20 years, unless companies and Governments can drastically reduce plastic production.
According to the International Solid Waste Association, single-use plastic consumption has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Face masks and latex gloves are washing up daily on Asia’s remote beaches. Landfills worldwide are piled high with record amounts of takeaway food containers and online delivery packaging. If no action is taken, however, the amount of plastic going into the sea every year will rise from 11 million tons to 29 million tons, leaving a cumulative 600 million tons swilling in the ocean by 2040, the equivalent weight of 3 million blue whales. Plastic pollution is something that affects everyone. It’s not one country’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem.
Big plastic makers, including ExxonMobil, Dow and Chevron Phillips Chemical, have said they are committed to tackling plastic pollution, despite increasing production. The projects they fund focus on cleaning up waste.
The plastic industry has lobbied against Government bans on single-use plastic. Some of the biggest buyers of plastic are consumer goods companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever. They have all made commitments to use a greater amount of recycled content in products in the future. But current Government and corporate commitments will only reduce the amount of plastic flowing into the ocean by 7% by the year 2040.
The research offers solutions that could cut the projected volume of plastic entering the ocean by more than 80%. The roadmap for stemming the runaway ocean plastic waste crisis is among the most detailed ever offered in a study. The strategy includes implementing new laws to discourage new plastic production and provide subsidies for reusable alternatives, redirecting hundreds of billions of dollars in plastic production investment into alternative materials, recycling facilities and waste collection expansion in developing countries.
To cut the flow of ocean plastic by 80%, paper or compostable alternatives to single-use plastic would be needed and packaging should be redesigned to more than double the share of recyclable material. This would also require a u-turn by the energy industry, which is rapidly building new chemical plants around the world to boost plastic output as its traditional fuel business is eroded by a rise in cleaner energy sources.
(Nguồn: Bài đăng trên Tạp chí Môi trường số Chuyên đề Tiếng Anh III/2020)