Environmental policiesPolicy and Affairs

Global agreement to cut plastic production? “It won’t be enough”

Plastic production in the G20 countries would rise from 269 to 450 million tonnes by mid-century

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – In the first 20 years of this century, global plastic production has doubled to 460 million tons per year. If we do not put a stop to this, the share produced by the G20 countries will double by 2050. And there is no point in continuing with fragmented programs to boost recycling and ban single-use plastics: the solution can only go from a global agreement, such as the one in the pipeline since last year.

This is stated by a study by Back to Blue, an initiative to limit the production of plastic in the world promoted by Economist Impact and The Nippon Foundation. Peak Plastics: Bending the consumption curve, for the first time, calculates the impact of the different plastics policies that are being discussed at the UN global agreement negotiations. And it points out a very clear way: we need more ambition.

How to stop global plastic production

“The combination of these policies slows the growth of plastic consumption, but it will not be enough to peak by 2050, which illustrates the scale of the challenge ahead,” the authors summarize. “If the negotiators can not agree on any political intervention, we expect that the consumption of plastic in the G20 countries under study will double by almost the middle of the century”. This would increase from 269 million tonnes in 2019 to over 450 million tonnes in 2050. G20 countries are worth about half of global plastic production.

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By combining the three main policies under discussion – banning single-use plastics, extended liability for producers and a tax on virgin resin production – the study estimates that the growth rate of production would fall from 1,73 to 1.25 by mid-century. That is, there would still be growth and a sustained pace.

To bend the consumption growth curve downwards by the middle of the century, stricter conditions will be needed than those taken into account – for example, a wider scope of the ban on the use of plastics and higher carbon tax rates on plastic production – or additional measures“, concludes the study.

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