Moving Away from Single Use Plastic – Exploring Reusable Alternatives
The pandemic was quite a roller coaster and everyone was affected one way or the other. The Covid 19 crisis impacted the environment in many ways, for better or worse.
On one hand, global emissions dropped significantly in the first half of 2020 as restrictions were put in place. Sadly, most of the gains were lost in the second half of the year and in 2021 when those limitations were lifted. One of the biggest problems created by the pandemic was a spike in the use of single use plastic. The effects are catastrophic and amplify an already serious global waste crisis. This requires vigorous action starting today!
Live in Plastic Isn’t Fantastic
Single use plastic has emerged as the main enemy of a healthy environment. Unfortunately, it is so inexpensive and useful in everyday activities that people rely on it heavily. Moving away from this durable and cheap material is essential but the transition can’t be made overnight. Instead of trying to do away with plastic altogether, consumers should be provided with access to an appealing alternative. Cash- strapped individuals are unlikely to make financial sacrifices for the sake of a healthier environment.
Businesses are highly motivated to come up with convenient and sustainable reusable packaging. The magnitude of the global waste crisis is now fully known and the impact of plastic is undeniable. The prospect of having more plastic in the ocean than fish and the incredibly high percentage of tap water contaminated with micro plastic are chilling. Countries have pledged to curb the use of plastic, but the material is still produced worldwide and used enthusiastically by people from all over the world.
Ramping up the Recycling of Plastic
Studies have revealed that less than 10% of all the plastic that was created has been recycled. The numbers are much better if we look at the current status, but even though much more is being recycled, it is still not enough. Every ton of plastic that isn’t recycled ends up in the ocean, where it poses a huge threat to the marine wildlife. There is an obvious and undeniable link between the pollution of oceans and the trillions of dollars lost by global economies.
Reliance on single use plastic is a major concern and it only increased during and in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic. Disposable products are cherished for preventing the transmission of disease, keeping food fresh and all sorts of other essential purposes. For decades people have learned to use and appreciate plastic as an inexpensive and highly reliable material. Unless meaningful action is taken to reduce plastic pollution, world oceans will have more plastic than fish by 2050.
Creating a Global Plastic Action Plan
In order to put plastic recycling into overdrive, global and coherent action is needed. There are two main directions that can be followed and these can occur simultaneously to solve this pressing matter. Waste pickers from underdeveloped countries can be financed to ramp up collection in areas affected by plastic pollution. The next step is to analyze the type and quantity of plastic collected, and see how much money is made by sending it to local and international recycling companies.
Plastic recycling is the first and most important step to into a circular economy, where materials used in production can be redesigned and reused to mitigate the impact of waste. Reuse systems have the perk of greatly reducing not only pollution but also greenhouse gas emissions. In order to tackle the threat of single use plastic, both consumers and businesses must be encouraged to support these systems.
Innovative businesses have come up with solutions for turning reusable packaging into inexpensive and convenient alternatives. These pioneering systems are still in the testing phase and susceptible to major improvements that will make them more cost-effective. The time is right for consumers to embrace reusable alternatives, as environmental awareness is at its highest levels. With sufficient government involvement, the threat of single use plastic can be addressed and we can move to reusable alternatives.