While the versatility of plastics has helped build the global economy, their usefulness at home and at the office has not been without its challenges.
The very qualities that make plastics durable and best suited for a wide variety of uses are the same qualities that makes plastics very difficult to degrade naturally. The consumption of plastics will rise over the next decade and with the current approach of make, use and dispose; more plastic waste will end up being produced. It is estimated that over 90% of plastics ever manufactured end up in landfills and incinerators with only a relatively small amount of 10% of the total plastic waste being recycled.
To catalyze the change, society and business must move away from the linear model to a circular model that keeps high value materials circulating within the economy. This presents a major opportunity to achieve sustainability by adopting the circular economy.
What is the circular economy?
A circular economy is a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources.
This regenerative approach manufacture’s, uses and keeps high value plastics in circulation within the economy thereby reducing the need to manufacture virgin plastics. This has the greater impact of reducing the over reliance on natural resources.
Ideas and solutions
For us to reduce the waste and pollution associated with plastics, we must invest in designing better products, materials and services. This is focused on looking at upstream innovation that includes materials, manufacturing, packaging, shipping and the business model to drive innovation downstream during collection, sorting and recycling.
Brands and industries must recognize the growing consumer need for eco friendly products and adopt sustainable models of operations and manufacturing.
Through innovative solutions that close the loops within the circular economy, the opportunities herein will lead to better benefits to businesses from cost savings and better brand perception and realize that embracing innovation will be a strategic advantage to companies that want to address the biggest environmental and sustainability challenges.
With reduced waste, these solutions will also lead to drastically reduced carbon emissions
Driven by regulators and consumers, companies need to develop a regulatory framework that embraces innovation as a strategic advantage to companies that want to address the biggest environmental and sustainability challenges.
Our challenge towards sustainability begins with a framework of principles to reduce waste.
This begins with having a second look at the way we use products at home and in business and repurposing them for a different use.
By avoiding items that have a higher negative impact on the environment and less recycling value like single use plastics
Buying and using fewer disposable items and using durable alternatives
Go for durability of products rather than the convenience of use
Discover new purposes and endless possibilities and reduce the need for new purchases
Giving new life to items we already own through simple replacements of parts rather than new items
Making use of items and products by reusing or upcycling them for different uses
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By creating a stable market from recycled goods and raw materials we close the loop on plastic waste. Recycling plays in integral role as it makes value from waste into high value plastics to be remanufactured into the economy.
Adopting the 7Rs above, creating an inviting regulations and policies; and working with manufacturers to create innovative business models, we can come together to change the way we use and reuse plastics towards a more sustainable planet.