New Delhi: Plastic pollution can be reduced by 80 percent by 2040 if governments and companies make policy and market shifts using existing technologies, said the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The report “Turning Off The Tap” was released on Tuesday, ahead of the negotiations resuming in Paris seeking a global agreement to beat plastic pollution.
In a historic decision at the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022 in Nairobi, all 193 UN Member States decided to end plastic pollution with a binding legal agreement by 2024.
According to the report, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.
In total, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes, the UNEP said, About 400 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year.
The report proposes a systems change to address the causes of plastic pollution, combining reducing problematic and unnecessary plastic use with a market transformation towards circularity in plastics.
It said this can be achieved by accelerating three key shifts “reuse, recycle, and reorient and diversify” and actions to deal with the legacy of plastic pollution.
On reuse, the report said the reuse systems provide the highest opportunity to reduce plastic pollution (a reduction of 30 percent by 2040) by replacing some of the most problematic and unnecessary products.
On Recycle, it said “accelerating the market for plastics recycling by ensuring recycling becomes a more stable and profitable venture could reduce the amount of plastic pollution by an additional 20 per cent by 2040”
On reorient and diversify the report said,the sustainable alternatives could reduce pollution by 17 per cent by 2040.
Research also shows that under a business-as-usual scenario, plastic could emit 19 per cent of global greenhouse gas GHG emissions allowed under a 1.5°C scenario by 2040, essentially making the goal out of reach.
The report said the transition to a “new plastics economy” is the most cost-effective way to ensure plastic pollution is substantially reduced by 2040.
It said by 2040, it create 700,000 additional jobs, and improved livelihoods for millions of workers in informal settings which is close to USD 1.3 trillion.
UNEP said, ” Currently,the world produces 430 million metric tons of plastics each year , of which over two-thirds are short-lived products which soon become waste, and a growing amount after one single use. Plastic production is set to triple by 2060 if ‘business-as-usual’ continues”.