This week, we gathered together with the world’s most innovative and influential people to design a New Plastics Economy that works for people and the planet.
This week, we gathered together with the world’s most influential companies, cities, academics, NGOs, and entrepreneurs to tackle the ambitious goal of building a circular economy for plastic. This group of people has a combined 1000+ years of expertise and this was the first meeting to discuss the New Plastics Economy.
The New Plastics Economy is an ambitious, three-year initiative to build a plastics system that works. Applying the principles of the circular economy, the initiative brings together key stakeholders to re-think and re-design the future of plastics, starting with packaging.
The initiative recently gained global attention with a report finding that we’ll have more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050 if we continue business as usual. On the other hand, the report also uncovered a massive business opportunity:
“Most plastic packaging is used only once; 95% of the value of plastic packaging material, worth $80-120bn annually, is lost to the economy.”
Here are the some of the big ideas that the New Plastics Economy team hopes to bring to reality:
Creating effective after-use pathways for plastics. The useful life of plastic is typically less than one year, but it may take centuries to decompose. Manufacturers of new plastic need to plan for what happens to the plastic they produce once it’s no longer useful. Most ‘biodegradable plastics’ don’t actually break down in the environment without an industrial composter. We need to make sure they aren’t mixed in with normal plastics as they can’t be recycled.
Decoupling plastics from fossil-fuel feedstocks. While this isn’t an immediate solution, scientists are working on plastic that is not made from petroleum. Some early stage innovations are manufactured from algae or even produced from captured greenhouse gases!
Drastically reducing leakage of plastics into natural systems, in particular oceans. Here’s where we make the biggest dent! Somewhere between 4.7 and 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic enter our oceans annually. If we take the mid-point that’s about 17,637,000,000 pounds of plastic every year, or enough to fill 5 grocery bags for every single foot of coastline in the world.
The Plastic Bank is making plastic waste a currency in developing countries to help reduce global poverty and plastic waste. We offer people in need an above market value for the plastic, which is sold as Social Plastic® to brands for use in their manufacturing as a replacement for virgin plastic.
Every person can play a part in preventing plastic waste from entering our oceans. If you wwant to get involved you can join the million+ people who have already helped to prove the demand for Social Plastic ® on Facebook, participate in our ask a brand to use Social Plastic ® campaign or donate to the cause.