Action on plastic pollution has been slowed considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic – but there’s a new emerging angle that could help rebuild momentum for the transition to a greener and more circular society. Governments at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are also showing increased interest in tackling plastics pollution.
Paradigm Shift brings together some of the most prominent voices in the circular space on what it will take for the global community to make the transition to circularity. This publication takes a systems–level view of the challenge and focuses on solutions—upstream, downstream, and across sectors—with critical takeaways that you can use to advance your circular economy mission.
COVID-19 triggered an estimated global use of 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves every month. If we stitched together all of the masks manufactured already, and projected to be produced, we’d be able to cover the entire landmass of Switzerland.
Learn how over the last 6 years, this leading national nonprofit has:
° Leveraged more than $90 million in impact.
° Reached more than 77 million households.
° Helped more than 1,500 U.S. communities overcome recycling challenges.
° Invested over 53 million in recycling infrastructure.
° Delivered new recycling carts to more than 700,000 U.S. households.
° Reduced 251,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.
° Diverted more than 230 million pounds of recyclables from landfills into the recycling stream.
° Reduced contamination by 40% and increased the value of cleaner recyclables by $20 per ton in pilot communities.
How do we tackle plastic pollution in a pandemic? Can we?
About three months ago, the entire world seemed to come to a stop. Borders were closed, in-person meetings and workshops canceled, and projects suspended while resources were redeployed to address the crisis at hand.
But in this moment of unimaginable difficulty, many are already seeing hope in a green recovery: a “more protective … more inclusive” economic model that would “contribute to building more resilient societies.” In this new approach, governments have the opportunity — and the responsibility — to transform sustainability commitments into action, both in the short and the long term.
A Senate committee hearing last week focused on challenges facing the U.S. recycling system. During the hearing, lawmakers noted that recycling is typically regulated at the state level but momentum is building for a more unified approach nationwide.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del) said, “There is a consensus that the federal government can play a greater role in facilitating recycling but the details of what that role should be are subject, as you know, to debate.” He also asked industry experts in attendance how Congress could best help the recycling sector and what role the federal government could play in addressing current challenges.
Bridget Croke, managing director of Closed Loop Partners, said the recycling sector would benefit from the type of assistance that virgin raw materials producers receive: tax incentives, measures to incentivize market demand, and other tools to help make the economic case for using the materials.
Got plastic waste? Bring it on, says Brightmark, which is looking to procure 1,200,000 tons per year of post-use plastic types 1 through 7 from the eastern half of the United States. It will recycle the plastic waste at its existing and soon-to-be-built plastics renewal plants nationwide.
First-of-its-kind modeling analysis describes actions needed to stop plastic from entering the ocean.
“We have made significant strides on our journey to use more sustainable packaging,” said David Tulauskas, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer of NWNA.