BLOG: We need a global agreement that sets targets for reducing plastic waste

Author: John Richardson

2021/05/21

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson.

We need a global agreement that sets targets for reducing plastic rubbish in the oceans.

Whatever the developed world does on recycling will barely move the needle towards solving the plastic waste crisis. The reason is that some two billion people, most of whom live in the developing world, lack any access to rubbish collection systems. More than 90% of plastic waste in the oceans comes from just ten rivers, eight in Asia and two in Africa.

The huge volume of future demand in the developing world for single-use plastics means we must address the problem at source.

As the developing world gets richer, the content of plastic in the oceans can only increase unless we take urgent action. Many of the goods made from single-use plastics are lifesaving and so essential.

Investments in chemicals and mechanical recycling won’t by themselves fix the problem. Waste collection and sorting systems need to be built from scratch with solutions region-specific.

How do we start? With a Paris-type agreement on plastic waste, setting global binding targets for cutting plastic rubbish in the oceans. Then the regulations and incentives will follow.

Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS.