The world is creating more single-use plastic waste than ever, report finds

Brisbane, Australia

Despite global efforts to reduce plastic pollution and carbon emissions, the world is generating record amounts of single-use plastic waste, mostly from polymers made from fossil fuels, according to a new report released Monday. are made.

The second Plastic Waste Makers Index, compiled by the humanitarian Mundro Foundation, found that the world generated 139 million metric tons of single-use plastic waste in 2021, 6 million metric tons more than in 2019, when the first index was released. was issued.

The report found that the excess plastic waste generated in those two years is equivalent to about one kilogram (2.2 pounds) for every person on the planet, and is driven by demand for flexible packaging such as films and sachets.

In recent years, governments around the world have announced policies to reduce the volume of single-use plastics, including single-use straws, disposable cutlery, food containers, cotton swabs, bags and Products like balloons are banned.

In July, California became the first US state to announce its goals — including a 25 percent reduction in plastic packaging sales by 2032. In December, Britain expanded its list of banned items to include single-use trays, balloon sticks. and some types of polystyrene cups and dinnerware. Bans are also in place in the European Union, Australia and India, among other places.

But the report found that recycling is not growing fast enough to tackle plastic production, meaning that used products end up in landfills, beaches and rivers and oceans instead of being recycled. I am very likely to be dumped. Plants

The index names only two companies in the petrochemical industry that are recycling and producing recycled polymers on a large scale: Taiwan’s Group for Eastern New Century and Thailand’s Indorama Ventures, which makes beverage bottles. It is the world’s largest producer of recycled PET.

Indorama Ventures is also ranked fourth in the list of the world’s 20 largest producers of virgin polymers used in single-use plastics. According to the report, the list is led by US oil major Exxon ( XOM ) Mobil, China’s Sinopec ( SHI ) and another US heavyweight, Dow.

And in making the polymer bound for single-use plastics, those 20 companies produced about 450 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions — according to the Carbon Trust and Wood Mackenzie, which analyzed the data. Last June, the UK’s Office for National Statistics said the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions would fall by 13% to just 478 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt Co2e) by 2020.

“There is no doubt that the problem of plastic pollution is becoming huge and is being driven by polymer producers, who are of course driven by the oil and gas sector,” said Andrew Forrest, founder of Mandro. And Iron Chief Executive said. Giant Fortescue Metals.

A building is reflected in the water of a garbage-filled river in Manila on January 23, 2016.

He is proposing a “polymer premium” on every kilogram of plastic polymer made from fossil fuels to give people, companies and governments a financial incentive to recycle more.

“In the modern world, that polymer payment will lead to automated mechanized collection. In the developing world, it will lead to people who would otherwise have no job, to ensure that No plastic waste going into the sea, no plastic waste on the roads, no plastic waste poisoning the wildlife,” he said.

Last year, the United Nations Environment Assembly, the world’s highest decision-making body on the environment, agreed to create the world’s first global plastic pollution agreement.

An intergovernmental committee is working toward a 2024 deadline to draft a legally binding agreement that would address the full life cycle of plastics, from production and design to disposal.

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