The current plastic economy is not efficient to avoid plastic leakage into the environment. Each year about 40% of plastic waste ends up in the environment - in 2016, 11 million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean. Continuing with Business-as-usual will double the plastic generation, triple the plastic leakage in the ocean and quadruple the plastic stock in the oceans by 2040. Single solutions such as reduction or recycling would not be sufficient to efficiently reduce the ocean leakage. A combination of technical solutions that are already available is required to drastically reduce the plastic leakage.
This report presents a new “System Change” scenario which would allow an 80% reduction of plastic leakage into the ocean by 2040, combining pre-consumer and post-consumer solutions.
Bioplastics have their role to play in this new scenario!
1/6 of the current plastic production can be substituted by paper (18 million tons paper and 14 million tons coated paper) and compostable plastics (39 million tons). Only plastics which could not be reduced or recycled should be substituted. 95% of this potential substitution comes from six key product applications for which known material alternatives already exist without fundamentally decreasing the performance, affordability or social and environmental acceptability of packaging and single-use items. Substitution of monomaterial films provides the largest potential for bioplastics at 38 million tons for compostables and coated paper. In order to achieve this goal, investments are needed for the development of suitable End-Of-Life options.