Global plastic waste expected to triple by 2060: OECD | Environment News
Even with aggressive action to reduce demand, plastic production would almost double in less than 40 years.
A world severely impacted by plastic pollution is on track to see the use of plastics nearly triple in less than four decades, according to newly published findings.
Annual production of fossil fuel-based plastics is expected to reach 1.2 billion tonnes by 2060 and waste will exceed 1 billion tonnes, according to a report released Friday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The report says this increase will be driven by economic and population growth, with the biggest increases expected in emerging economies in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
According to the OECD, even with aggressive action to reduce demand and improve efficiency, plastic production would almost double in less than 40 years.
However, such globally coordinated policies could dramatically increase the share of future plastic waste recycled, from 12 to 40 percent.
The international community is increasingly concerned about the volume and pervasiveness of plastic pollution and its effects.
Infiltrating the most remote and otherwise pristine regions of the planet, microplastics have been discovered inside fish in the deepest recesses of the ocean and locked in Arctic ice.
Debris is estimated to cause the death of over one million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals each year.
“Plastic pollution is one of the great environmental challenges of the 21st century, causing considerable damage to ecosystems and human health,” said Mathias Cormann, director of the OECD.
Since the 1950s, around 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced, with more than 60% thrown into landfills, burned or dumped directly into rivers and oceans.
Some 460 million tonnes of plastics were used in 2019, twice as much as 20 years earlier.
The report builds on the February 2022 report and examines projections for 2060 in #Plastic waste 🥤
More info ➡️ https://t.co/Jrym0V9ttS pic.twitter.com/NIqX06jKY5
— OECD Environment (@OECD_ENV) June 3, 2022
The amount of plastic waste has also nearly doubled, to over 350 million tonnes, of which less than 10% is recycled.
The new report pits a business as usual trajectory against the benefits of more ambitious global policies to reduce plastic use and pollution.
Driven by economic growth and an expanding population, plastics production is expected to increase in both scenarios, the OECD warns.
Where policies can make a huge difference is in waste management.
Currently, almost 100 million tons of plastic waste is either mismanaged or released into the environment, a figure that is expected to double by 2060.
“Coordinated and ambitious global efforts can nearly eliminate plastic pollution by 2060,” the report concludes.
Earlier this year, the United Nations launched a process to develop a binding international treaty to limit plastic pollution.