Each year we produce 300 million tons of plastic waste, which fall into rivers and oceans, and then into our stomachs. They kill birds, fish and animals, both on land and in the oceans. It is possible to reduce the damage at least somehow by recycling plastic waste. But so far only nine percent of the thrown away plastic is utilized.
Experts recognize that there is no "magic" solution to the problem of plastic pollution. Recycling plastic can reduce its influx, but there are difficulties.
First, some types of plastic waste cannot be recycled. People, even conscious citizens, often, as they say," throw away everything in one pile", and this increases the cost of processing.
"Chemicals that are added to polymers in plastic, waste from mixed materials, dirty packages from food - all of this this makes their utilization more difficult and requires additional costs," – was noted in a recent report of the UN environment Program.
The disadvantages of waste utilization have become particularly evident in China's decision to stop accepting waste from other countries this year. Since 1992, half of the world's waste has been brought to China. Now it turned out that countries are not ready to recycle their own garbage.
Experts have been offering to force manufacturers and sellers of plastic packages to compensate the costs of waste recyclong for a really long time.
A number of companies already use recycled plastic, but these are still not enough. Those who don't want to take responsibility for the waste can be "punished with a ruble". Thus, the UK government intends to charge supermarkets, retailers and beverage manufacturers from 70 million to a billion pounds a year.
And the new strategy of the European Commission provides a complete transition to plastic products that are recyclable or can be reused. They believe that this will allow to create 200 thousand jobs by 2030 – however, in case that the scale of plastic recycling will increase four times. EU countries recycle only a third of plastic waste, the volume of which is 25 million tons per year.
The situation is even worse in poor countries, where the authorities simply don't have the capacity to handle waste properly. At the same time, many of them are the largest sources of pollution of the seas and oceans. 90 percent of plastic in the oceans bring only 10 rivers, eight of which are in Asia.
This situation has attracted the attention of some large companies. For example, the waste management firm Veolia and the trade giant Unilever will work together in India and Indonesia to increase the volume of waste collection and recycling with the help of new technologies and move to a circular or non-waste economy.
The investment company Circuit Capital, which is engaged in the protection of the oceans from plastic, intends to demonstrate the benefits of investments in the waste processing industry in South and South-East Asia.
In developing countries, millions of people, including the unemployed, the elderly, women and children, collect plastic waste – however, not from a good life and in unhealthy conditions. According to the world Bank, if they are supported and organized, such "informal" recycling can lead to job creation, poverty reduction and savings for local budgets.
And in Jamaica, the authorities hired special people who teach neighbors how to handle waste without harming the environment. People begin to collect empty bottles and plastic garbage, which are then sold to waste processors.
"But it will not be possible to solve the problem of plastic pollution of the oceans and increase the scale of waste processing with a wave of a magic wand," - says Rob Kaplan, founder and head of Circuit Capital. – We will achieve nothing if we invest only in education, ignoring infrastructure, and Vice versa. This is a systemic problem and its solution should also be systemic."
The UN Environmental Assembly will be held in March. In the UN Program for the environment has been launched the campaign #SolveDifferent.
Young people are invited to share their ideas and learn, what others are doing to protect our planet.