Plastic offers unique properties and its use dominates in modern life. However, these benefits are challenging mainly due to improper management and escape of plastics in the environment.
A total of 5.8 billion tonnes of plastic waste, of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic imported between 1950 and 2015, has been generated (12% were incinerated, 9% were recycled and about 79% were disposed of in landfills or in the environment).
The escape of plastics to the environment concerns various sources and extends to the entire life cycle of plastic products, including the extraction of raw materials, the production of plastic products and the distribution to consumers until their final disposal after use. The main problem is the escape of plastics at the end of the life cycle from the disposal of waste in uncontrolled dumpsites, failures of the waste collection and transport system, the erratic littering by citizens in the environment, as well as improper use and management of plastic waste in the industrial and agricultural sector. In addition, escapes of microplastics from road vehicle tires as well as plastic micro-fibers from washing of synthetic textiles are also significant. According to scientific evidence, 9.2 million tons of plastics and 3.0 million tons of microplastics end up in the environment each year.
As a result, plastic has been found everywhere on earth as far away as the remote areas of Arctic.
The different nature of the different plastic products, their different uses and ways of processing at the end of their life cycle increases the complexity of the value chain as well as the number of different stakeholders, including the chemical industry and manufacturers of plastic products, retailers, consumers, waste management bodies and recyclers.
With the production of plastics growing steadily and predicting to double over the next 20 years, coordinated action and planning is essential in order to manage plastics and reduce plastic pollution.
Qgreen is collaborating with global policy makers to tackle and limit plastic pollution and has experience in developing research on this major issue that concerns both the scientific community worldwide and local waste management bodies.