Corporate pledges to recycle or reduce plastics aren’t translating into less plastic use, study finds


This graphical summary depicts the findings of Diana et al., who analyzed voluntary commitments focusing on plastic air pollution made by 974 firms globally between 2015 and 2020. Credit score: Diana et al./One Earth

Plastic air pollution is overwhelming landfills, littering Earth’s coastlines, and affecting the well being of animals, together with people, whereas additionally contributing to environmental degradation and local weather change.

As public expectations for company accountability develop and an rising variety of companies pledge to reduce plastic use, researchers publishing within the journal One Earth on November 18 element how the world’s largest and strongest firms’ give attention to recycling somewhat than virgin plastic discount makes their commitments less significant.

The study targeted on the highest 300 Fortune 500 firms and located that 72% had made a dedication to decreasing plastic air pollution. “Most of the commitments emphasize plastic recycling and commonly target general plastics,” write the authors, led by Zoie Taylor Diana, an environmental researcher on the Duke College Marine Laboratory. “They are important, but partial, solutions if we are to comprehensively address the plastic pollution problem.”

“Between 1950 and 2017, plastics production increased 174-fold and is forecast to double again by 2040,” the authors write. “As of 2015, an estimated 79% of global plastic waste was in landfills or ended up in the natural environment, 12% was incinerated, and 9% was recycled. Plastics in the environment have negative repercussions at all levels of biological organization.”

The paper highlights the businesses’ overwhelming give attention to altering their consumption and manufacturing patterns, usually by together with extra recycled content material of their merchandise and “lightweighting”—the observe of marginally decreasing the amount of plastic used to bundle a selected product.

“From our literature review, we found that multiple companies, such as the Coca-Cola Company and Walmart, are producing lighter and smaller plastic products (e.g., bottles and bags),” write the authors.

“This ‘lightweighting’ of plastic is considered an insufficient response because companies may reinvest this savings into markets that involve new plastic products and/or increase the total mass of plastic produced.” As a result of the variety of plastic merchandise will increase every year, the usage of this observe doesn’t lead to a web discount of plastic.

Going ahead, the authors say that the scientific group ought to proceed to monitor the plastic practices of main firms and the results that plastics are having on the planet. “Scientists (including natural, life, and social scientists) have an important role in monitoring and defining environmental issues, which may aid in holding companies accountable.”

Extra data:
Zoie Diana, Voluntary commitments made by the world’s largest firms give attention to normal plastic and recycling over different actions to deal with the plastics disaster, One Earth (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2022.10.008. … 2590-3322(22)00534-6

Corporate pledges to recycle or reduce plastics aren’t translating into less plastic use, study finds (2022, November 18)
retrieved 18 November 2022

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