Plastic chaos: Global companies ally to end plastic pollution

MIRAÇ TAPAN
ISTANBUL
Published 31.01.2019 00:07
Popular tourist destination Kuta beach in Bali, Indonesia, is regularly covered in waste, most of it plastic that washes ashore during the rainy season.
Popular tourist destination Kuta beach in Bali, Indonesia, is regularly covered in waste, most of it plastic that washes ashore during the rainy season.

Some 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans each year and despite efforts to clean it up, things are not looking so bright. However, a group of global companies have formed a promising alliance and rolled up their sleeves for a future without plastic waste

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats that our planet is facing. From global warming to ocean and land pollution, the mounting plastic waste in landfills poses great danger not only for the future of earth but also for every living being that inhabits it.

However, things were not always going south when it comes to plastic. Plastics have helped improve living standards, hygiene and nutrition around the world, especially in developing countries. Rapid increase in incomes and prosperity has brought many of the conveniences of modern life. Yet, as it has improved our lives substantially, we have become more dependent on plastic and other plastic-like petroleum products. As it turns out, a lot of the things we use in our day to day lives are items that we toss away without thinking about how it will decompose in nature.

For the last couple of years, countries and individuals have become more aware of the danger of plastic waste. Serious precautions have been taken by governments including raising the taxes on plastic products or charging for plastic bags that we so carelessly take away after we are done with shopping. Although people are more and more careful in separating plastics from other waste and are involved in recycling more every day, it's nearly impossible to avoid buying products that don't use any plastic nowadays.

Alliance for hope

Aware of the fact that our planet might one day come to an end because of plastic, global companies which mainly use plastic while bringing their products to the customer have leagued together against plastic pollution. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is composed of companies that are producers of chemical substances and plastic, as well as companies operating in retail, recycling and waste management. Apart from the member companies, the group also works hand in hand with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as its founding partner.

The primary mission of Alliance to End Plastic Waste is to come up with solutions to end the mounting plastic waste in landfills. As a part of its action plan, the alliance promises to invest over $1 billion and spend an extra $1.5 billion in the next five years for the cause.

Apart from projects initiated within its own body the alliance also aims to support investments on stopping plastic waste and to encourage individuals and companies to take action. Furthermore, the alliance will be involved in:

Developing infrastructure for garbage collection, management and recycling

Making garbage recycling easier and encourage customers to reuse the plastic waste

Working on new technologies and adopt them in garbage management

Encouraging governments, work places, NGOs and individuals about the danger posed by plastic waste

Cleaning areas, including rivers that carry the plastic waste dumped on land to the ocean, and leaving a cleaner environment for future generations.

Commenting on the alliance, David Taylor, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble, and chairman of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, said this was a complex and serious global challenge that calls for swift action and strong leadership.

"Everyone agrees that plastic waste does not belong in our oceans or anywhere in the environment... This new alliance is the most comprehensive effort to date to end plastic waste in the environment. I urge all companies, big and small and from all regions and sectors, to join us," he added.

One of the members of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste is Henkel which plans to produce all its packaging to be 100 percent recyclable by 2025. Speaking on the issue, Henkel's CEO and the President of German Chemical Association Hans Van Bylen said the company aims to end plastic waste. "This is only possible if companies work hand in hand with suppliers, business partners, governments and other organizations," Van Bylen added.

Ocean of plastics

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced globally since the early 1950s, about 60 percent of which ended up in a landfill, or the natural environment.

According to the statement, research from the Ocean Conservancy shows that nearly 80 percent of plastic waste in the ocean begins as litter on land, the vast majority of which travels to the sea by rivers.

"In fact a study estimates that over 90 percent of river-borne plastic in the ocean comes from 10 major rivers around the world, eight in Asia and two in Africa. Sixty percent of plastic waste in the ocean can be sourced to five countries in Southeast Asia," it said.

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