"New plastic economy" solves the difficulty of reducing plastics, what coup strategies do governments have?

  • 2022-04-02
Affected by the epidemic, the global demand and use of plastic products are increasing. After these plastic products are discarded, they will bring huge damage to the ecological environment. Plastic waste such as masks and gloves are washed up on remote beaches, and plastic packaging for takeaway food and express delivery has piled up in landfills. It is urgent to control plastic pollution. In order to curb the impact of plastic waste on the environment, governments around the world have introduced governance measures to promote the implementation of policies. Relevant enterprises also responded to the government's environmental protection initiative and pursued sustainable operations.
Difficult to reuse plastic waste becomes a burden
The United Nations reports that as many as 5 trillion plastic bags are used globally every year. And only 9% of the world's 9 billion tons of plastic products can be recycled, and most of the rest end up in landfills or into the natural environment. Refractory, low-recycling plastic waste has caused a heavy burden on the environment and economic development.
According to statistics, South Korea produces about 70,000 tons of marine waste every year, of which the proportion of plastic waste is astounding. According to 2019 data, plastic waste accounts for as high as 81.2% of all marine debris, and is the number one cause of the death of many marine organisms.

According to data from the Ministry of Environment of South Korea, the recycling rate of plastic products in South Korea in 2017 was only 34.4%. South Korean environmental protection experts have analyzed that after the recycled plastic waste is transferred to the processing agency, it cannot be reused due to some reasons such as foreign matter contamination and deterioration of quality, and can only be destroyed in the end.

As a country surrounded by seas, plastic waste is a serious threat to Australia's marine environment. According to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water Resources and the Environment, about 80% of marine debris today is plastic. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than the weight of fish.
In addition, the amount of plastic waste that people create in their daily lives is staggering. Australians use up to 10 million plastic bags every day, up to 4 billion a year. Some 150 million will eventually end up in oceans and waterways, dumping as much as 8 million tons of plastic into the sea each year. Data released by Australia's environment department shows that only 14% of the country's plastic waste is recycled every year, of which only 3% are plastic bags.
According to statistics from the Statista website, in 2018, Germany produced about 19 million tons of plastic products, accounting for about one-third of the total plastic products in the EU; Germans produce an average of about 39 kilograms of plastic waste each year, far exceeding the EU average of 33 kilograms.
In the UK, around 700,000 plastic bottles end up in waste every day. Of the 30 billion plastic bottles used in UK households every year, only 57% are recycled. According to the latest figures for 2019, more than 370,000 tonnes of plastic can be recycled in the UK each year. While recycling volumes have grown significantly from just 13,000 tonnes in 2000, most plastics end up in landfills or incinerators.
Governments of various countries solve problems
Actively responding to plastic pollution is related to global ecological protection and the high-quality economic development of various countries. Faced with the problem of plastic pollution, governments around the world have introduced relevant policies to increase the collection and disposal of recyclable plastic waste.
The 2019 National Waste Policy Action Plan states that Australia will ban the export of waste plastics, paper, glass and tyres from the second half of 2020, and phase out problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025. Currently, most state and territory governments in Australia have banned the use of single-use lightweight plastic bags. In some states and territories, people can also send plastic bottles to designated locations for recycling and exchange for change. Data from the Australian Retail Consortium shows that since July 2018, when the country's two largest supermarket chains announced plastic restrictions, the consumption of single-use plastic bags in Australia has dropped by more than 80 per cent.
In 2018, the UK introduced a new Resource and Waste Strategy, which will comprehensively change the way plastic waste is handled. Businesses and manufacturers have a greater responsibility to pay for the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste, including cars, electronics and batteries. In addition, the British government signed the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's "New Plastics Economy Global Commitment" in 2018, committed to accelerating the transition to a plastics circular economy.
In recent years, Germany has introduced a number of environmental protection policies to reduce plastic waste. Since 2015, local supermarkets have stopped offering single-use plastic bags for free, a move that has led to a 64 percent drop in plastic bag consumption. At the end of 2018, the German Ministry of Environment proposed a "five-point plan", including banning the use of single-use plastic packaging, advocating environmentally friendly packaging, strengthening the use of recyclable plastic products, avoiding mixing plastics in organic waste, opposing marine litter and advocating plastic products. Sustainable use, aiming to reduce the production of plastic products and enhance recycling. In response to the EU's ban on the production of single-use plastic products that will take effect in 2021, the German government also decided in July 2020 to ban the sale of multiple categories of plastic products.
In May 2018, the Ministry of Environment of South Korea issued the "Comprehensive Countermeasures for Handling Recyclable Waste" and pointed out that it will strive to reduce the emission of plastic waste by half by 2030, and increase the recycling rate of plastic waste from 34% in 2017 to 70%. Reduce single-use use by 35% by 2022.
Earlier, the South Korean government stipulated that consumers should not provide disposable cups when they enjoy drinks in cafes. Since August 1 this year, the Ministry of Environment of South Korea has begun to implement a policy of reducing the use of plastic products. If businesses directly provide disposable cups without asking customers for their opinions, they will be fined. In addition, from 2021, take-out packages and disposable tableware provided by cafes will be prohibited from being provided for free. From 2022, supplies such as plastic straws and plastic stirring rods will also be completely banned.
The South Korean government said that for manufacturers who suffered losses in the policy of restricting the use of disposable products, a certain "business transformation subsidy" will be issued to compensate for some of their business losses. For businesses in coffee shops and traditional markets, the South Korean government plans to provide support by providing tableware cleaning equipment.
At the beginning of 2020, China's National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued the "Opinions on Further Strengthening the Control of Plastic Pollution" requiring that by the end of 2020, the catering industry nationwide will ban the use of non-degradable disposable plastic straws. Experts believe that although the output of plastic straws only accounts for 0.036% of the total output of plastic products, its attention is high, and the ban will have a strong demonstration effect on the whole society.
Help environmental protection enterprises to promote "new plastic economy"
In January 2016, the World Economic Forum in Davos released a report entitled "New Plastics Economy - Rethinking the Future of Plastics", which for the first time proposed the vision of establishing a circular economy for plastics. Let plastic never become waste. As countries around the world gradually increase their efforts to limit plastics, relevant companies have also innovated technologies, developed related environmentally friendly products, and advanced the vision of the plastics economy into reality through actions.
At the National Plastics Summit Australia 2020, the industry made several key announcements, showcasing how businesses can help tackle the plastic waste challenge. Among them, Australia's largest rigid plastics producer Pact Group announced an investment of 500 million Australian dollars to upgrade facilities, research and improve technology to increase the use of sustainable packaging. Increase the recycled content of its product portfolio to 30% by 2025. Qantas plans to reduce 100 million single-use plastic items such as cups, cutlery and meal boxes by the end of 2020, replacing them with compostable items.
In response to the call of the Korean government, Korean companies have joined the ranks of environmental protection. A local comprehensive food company established a marine plastic waste management team to carry out a "3-year plan" dedicated to reducing marine pollution. For the 40 fishing boats it manages, the management team will reduce the use of plastic products on board by 65.4% within three years. In addition, the company's subsidiary has successfully developed ultra-light and environmentally friendly glass bottles to replace the colored plastic bottles for beer.
Asda supermarkets in the UK will package fresh produce with a new vegetable coating that has been approved by the European Commission. CupClub, a London start-up company, uses the electronic tag technology in the field of Internet of Things to design a cup recycling system. By setting up recycling points in the city, people can use reusable cups like renting a shared bicycle, and cooperated with McDonald's and Starbucks earlier this year. reach cooperation.
In 2019, 30 companies, including German chemical company BASF, established the "Plastic Waste End Alliance" in London. These companies plan to invest a total of 1.5 billion US dollars by 2024 to invent technologies to improve the recycling rate of waste. In addition, there are many creative companies in Germany that "turn waste into treasure". For example, the Berlin Pentatonic furniture factory makes various tables, chairs and cups from plastic bottles and disposable cups that people discard daily.
According to Statista statistics, in 2018, only 4.5% of Germans will buy plastic bags when shopping for food; 57% of people will not buy single-use plastic bags when shopping; 72% of the people support the imposition of fees on plastic bags. Parades or art exhibitions related to plastic waste are often held across Australia to increase public awareness of plastic reduction. A researcher from the National Institute of Ecology in Korea said: "Every consumer should be aware of the importance of reducing the use of plastic products. Only when each individual makes an effort can real environmental protection be achieved."
Controlling plastic pollution and promoting the establishment of a "new plastic economy" are inseparable from the active participation of ordinary people. With the continuous advancement of national-level policies in various countries, the environmental protection awareness of people in various countries is also constantly improving, and plastic pollution will eventually become a thing of the past.

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