The Guardian writes that the first step suggested by UN officials is the reduction of plastic packaging, especially the unnecessary one. Next in line would be reusing some of the plastic packaging out there, such as refillable bottles, increasing recyclability and also replacing plastic with nature-friendly alternatives.
Experts warn that such changes wouldn't automatically mean no plastic waste will be generated, but rather a much smaller amount, around 40 million tons by 2040 by their estimations, compared to the 227 million of no-action.
As plastic waste is found everywhere on Earth, even in the most remote places, 193 countries back in 2022 decided to end all forms of plastic waste, which could happen in 2024. Currently, the entire planet generates some 430 million tons of plastic waste every year and judging by current trends, the amount could triple by 2060.
Inger Andersen, UN Environment Program executive director, said that "the way we produce, use and dispose of plastics is polluting ecosystems, creating risks for human health and destabilising the climate. This report lays out a roadmap to dramatically reduce these risks through adopting a circular approach that keeps plastics out of ecosystems, out of our bodies and in the economy."
More recycling efforts would enable a 20% extra cut in plastic pollution by 2040, while replacing takeaway cups and containers, which account for most of the plastic waste that reaches our oceans, with sustainable alternatives, would cut 17% more.
Around 3 trillion USD worth-of money would be saved over the next two decades if the world is able to reduce its plastic pollution output by 80%. These would come in the form of health, air pollution prevention and climate benefits.
Additionally, experts suggest that the 80% reduction of plastic waste would also reduce CO2 emissions around the world by 500 million tons per year, nearly the yearly output of Canada, while it would also bring economy benefits to low-income countries in the form of new jobs.