Plastics recycling needs boost

Excerpt: Research suggests that roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean annually. Solutions should include policies like a plastic deposit return system under EPR

The Maharashtra government has targeted the right products in banning the plastics of onetime use carry bags and plastic cutlery as these are the most common products which are thrown away into oceans across the world after their use, which mostly have the size of less than 50 microns, according to Jenna R Jambeck, Associate Professor at University of Georgia, US and a leading researcher on plastic pollution.

“We have seen in countries that have (done so) up to a 40% reduction in consumption and a similar reduction in the amount of plastic going into the sea,” said Jambeck, who was in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Jambeck has been conducting research on solid waste management for two decades, with a special focus on ocean pollution. The research suggests that roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean annually. Solutions should include policies like a plastic deposit return system under extended producers’ responsibility (EPR).

Annual plastic production, which was only 2 million MT in the 1950s, reached 8.3 billion MT in 2017 and is expected to go up to 34 billion MT by 2050, she said.

Jambeck stressed the need to overhaul recycling systems. “The global average of recycling plastic is just 9%,” she noted. Another 12% is incinerated.

Jambeck also suggested that industry should look at design changes to reduce plastic use in products as well as enable greater recycling.