Oceans may have more plastic than fish by 2050: WEF study

Oceans may have more plastic than fish by 2050: WEF study
Over 40 industry leaders including from India today rallied here in support of a new plan to recycle plastic waste, fearing that oceans may have more plastic than fish by 2050 if no urgent steps are taken. The plan aims to increase total recycling from 14 per cent currently to 70 per cent of total plastic packaging.

The plan, presented here in a report by the WEF and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, observed that there could be "more plastics than fish (by weight) in the ocean by 2050 if no action is taken immediately". The report said that 20 per cent of plastic packaging could be profitably reused, for example by replacing single-use plastic bags with re-usable alternatives or designing innovative packaging models based on product refill.

A further 50 per cent of plastic packaging could be profitably recycled if improvements are made to packaging design and after-use management systems. This could bring in an additional USD 90 to USD 140 per tonne of mixed plastics. Without fundamental redesign and innovation, the  remaining 30 per cent of plastic packaging (by weight) will never be recycled and the equivalent of 10 billion garbage bags per year will be destined to landfill or incineration.

"The New Plastics Economy initiative has attracted wide-spread support, and across the industry we are seeing strong initial momentum and alignment on the direction to take. The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action provides a clear plan for redesigning the global plastics system, paving the way for concerted action," said Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder, Ellen MacArthur Foundation. "This could drive systemic change," said Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnership, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.

One of the signatories to the plan, Malati Gadgil, Treasurer of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, said, "Through first-hand experience, KKPKP knows how recyclable plastics create income for waste pickers in India. "The New Plastics Economy initiative attempts to ambitiously take a detailed and long-term view on the trade with a multi-pronged approach of value enhancement - critical for informal recyclers - and format and delivery model redesign for plastics packaging."

"This new report has tremendous potential to influence policy at the global and local levels and we look forward to how it will impact the recycling economy," Gadgil said. Others to have endorsed the plan include CEOs of Unilever, Danone, Veolia, Dow Chemicals, Suez and Carrefour as also top executives of giants like Coca Cola and PepsiCo.
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