Co-Founder, A Plastic Planet
BIG plastic would have you think its best days are ahead of it. And they’re prepared to provide you with a deluge of figures to prove it.
The industry boasts it has invested more than £150 billion in petrochemical plastic capacity over the past decade in the US alone. The British Plastics Federation presents the material as an environmentally viable material that is central to a greener future. BPF executives somehow manage to keep a straight face when they claim plastic is the silver bullet when it comes to slashing carbon, safeguarding human health and protecting our most precious flora and fauna.
The world’s biggest polluters are on borrowed time
But when you look beyond the corporate sustainability strategies, and drill down into the real figures, a very different picture emerges. The world’s biggest polluters are on borrowed time.
According to a report published this month by Carbon Tracker, petrochemical firms are set to bet some £300 billion on an increased demand for plastic that will never materialise. Indeed, from 2027, demand for virgin plastic is set to decrease dramatically, with up to 80% of consumers demanding radical action to slash plastic usage.
From 2027, demand for virgin plastic is set to decrease dramatically, with up to 80% of consumers demanding radical action to slash plastic usage.
Current legislation lacks real teeth and impact
But the rate of decline is nowhere near quick enough for a world choked by a seemingly never-ending supply of single-use detritus. In the UK, Whitehall has made all the right noises on a plastic clamp down but, currently, legislation lacks real teeth and impact.
In August, DEFRA announced the carrier bag charge is to double from five pence to ten pence, crowing about bag reduction numbers while omitting to mention the massive growth in the use of thick, unrecyclable plastic bags for life.
The Government’s Environment Bill should be urgently strengthened, for the first time taking radical action to work towards the total eradication of plastic bags from UK shops. It too must legislate for a ban on the plastic sachets that taint our world. They are the ultimate symbol of our grab and go, addicted-to-convenience lifestyle. Uncollectible, unrecyclable, and valueless, they pollute our planet at a pernicious rate.
Big plastic can make up the numbers all it wants. As consumers, we now know what’s really going on. Despite the industry lobbyists’ desperate attempts to squeeze every last drop of profit out of a dinosaur industry, at the final count, the numbers will not lie.