What is the problem with plastic?
Plastics take decades or even centuries to decompose in nature and what happens with micro- and nano-plastics is still a mystery. Since we do not want to see landfills or the plastic soup in our oceans growing, we need a solution. For many there is only one: see plastic as a valuable, recyclable resource, support the recycling economy and invest in smarter recycling.
Problem #1: From the approximately 8.3 billion tons of plastic that came into circulation worldwide by 2017, only about nine percent were recycled1. Most of it ended up in waste incinerators, on landfills or even in the environment.
Problem #2: Separating waste cleanly and producing single-variety recycling materials require huge investments that many countries cannot afford.
More developed countries like Germany also face tough challenges. According to the industry association “Plastics Europe” only 16 out of the 46 kilograms of plastic waste produced by every German per year are recycled, i.e. melted down and processed into new products. Two kilos end up on the landfill, the remaining 28 kilos of plastic waste are “thermally recycled” in the waste incineration plant to generate electricity or heat. Yes, this saves coal or other fossil fuels, but the energy used to produce the plastic is wasted.
1 'What a Waste 2.0' Report, World Bank