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Circular Economy
3

The Plastic Treaty - The Solution to Pollution

“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” Steve Jobs

"Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution." Norman Vincent Peale

While most the media simplistically demonise plastic, it’s wonderful news the United Nations have a holistic approach to solving plastic waste.
Their meeting in Nairobi 2nd March saw 175 nations agree to tackle pollution by covering the lifecycle of plastic from production, processing and end-of-life (mostly recycling).
Better ‘production’ includes design which 1) uses no more than needed 2) uses mono material, or fewer material types and no bio-plastics, so it’s easier to recycle and/ or 3) uses recycled content.
Better 'end of life'  includes 1) improved recycling collection, sorting and processing and 2) energy extraction from waste.
A quick google search on ‘plastic bag life cycle’ tells us regular plastic already has a lower overall environmental impact than other materials. But further improving its production to be greener is great news.
The major wins though will be a ‘zero waste’ approach to its ‘end of life’. With new incentives, legislation and recycling infrastructure, the Treaty encourages all products and materials to be “reused, remanufactured or recycled and therefore retained in the economy for as long as possible”.

FGP’s View

Plastic is so prominent because it’s cheap & effective to make & use. And understandably its main issue is ending up in our natural environment, as what makes plastic effective packaging is what makes it damaging to the environment - durability. But better recycling turns this problem in to a solution. The Treaty aims to develop energy extraction & recycling to unlock this end-of-life material value for a circular economy. While the other benefits of plastics vs other materials remain. i.e. less energy & water in production, more efficient logistics, less damages & food waste etc.

Introduction of Plastic Packaging Tax from April 2022 -GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Consistent with the Treaty objectives is the imminent Plastic Tax. This incentivises plastics to be made using min 30% recycled content & recyclable, so they are tax exempt. This will increase demand for waste plastics for recycling - an industry expected to boom and create jobs. Conversely, Bio films are not made with recycled content and are not recyclable so subject to plastic tax or banned. For more see our Blog Biodegradable or Biodebatable.
FGP only uses 50% recycled content plastic film and offer a free recycling service. Here, customers can request pre-paid mailers to return waste plastic film knowing it will 100% be recycled. Shop Green Packaging - Forever Green Packaging

Next Steps

The UN is aiming to complete a finalized treaty by 2024. It has promised that it will be legally binding and ask nations to report their plastic production, disposal and pollution.
“Should current waste management trends continue, we can expect just 9% of this plastic to be recycled. 50% will be sent to landfill, around 20% will be incinerated and the majority of the remainder likely ending up as pollution.” Edie newsroom, 2 March 2022
We can all do our bit and FGP encourage plastic recycling with our free recycling service. This makes it free and easy to return waste packaging safe in the knowledge it will 100% be recycled Shop Green Packaging - Forever Green Packaging

Final Positive Thought

Commenting on the UN meeting;
“Today marks a triumph by planet earth over single-use plastics... It is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it.” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

More info and sources

'A key moment in the effort to eliminate plastic waste': Green groups react to the UN plastics treaty (edie.net)
The UN plastics treaty: Everything you need to know (edie.net)
Plastic treaty: World leaders agree terms of international agreement to curb pollution at UN summit (edie.net)
Historic day in the campaign to beat plastic pollution: Nations commit to develop a legally binding agreement (unep.org)