Single-Use Plastic Production Surged in 2021

Single-Use Plastic Production Surged in 2021, Despite Growing Awareness of Environmental Impact.

Single-use plastics pose a risk to the environment and human health, and there have been increased efforts to regulate them in recent years as a result of growing public awareness of this risk.

Despite this, 139 million metric tonnes of single-use plastics were manufactured in 2021, a record high. According to the second-ever Plastic Waste Maker’s Index from the Australia-based Minderoo Foundation, that is six million metric tonnes more than in 2019.

Dr. Andrew Forrest, chairman of the Minderoo Foundation, stated in a statement releasing the report’s results that there will be more plastic, trash, and pollution. These figures from the second iteration of the Plastic Waste Makers Index are disturbing, but they are the findings.

The petrochemical sector is engaging in the highest level of greenwashing by claiming otherwise. We require a completely different strategy that stops the creation of additional plastic.

Single-Use Plastic Production Surged in 2021

According to CNN, the amount of plastic produced per person on Earth has increased by approximately 2.2 pounds since the Minderoo Foundation published its inaugural index in 2019.

The report made a point of stating that virgin materials derived from fossil fuels, as opposed to recycled plastics, constituted the great bulk of that plastic. The rise between the two studies was caused by virgin plastics 15 times more than it was by recycled materials.

The Minderoo Foundation continued to emphasize in its second report how the plastic pollution catastrophe is a significant aspect of the climate crisis. The UK would have released 460 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2021 if the single-use plastic lifecycle were a nation.

According to the report’s authors, the waste situation is getting worse as the industry’s shift away from its reliance on fossil fuels has made little headway. This has serious implications for the climate and net zero goals.

The foundation tracked the top 20 petrochemical firms that produce new plastics from fresh fossil fuel feedstock and determined that they were accountable for more than 50% of the world’s single-use plastic trash in its first Plastic Waste Makers Index.

Single-Use Plastic Production Surged in 2021

The ranking of businesses remained roughly the same in the current survey, with ExxonMobil in the top spot and Sinopec of China in second. Russia’s SIBUR and China’s Rongsheng Group, which were listed in the new report in positions 16 and 17, respectively, were the two new entrants.

The first Chinese corporation to join the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, Sinopec informed Reuters in reaction to the news that it was developing biodegradable polymers.

However, the report’s authors noted that they had previously thought about whether any of the companies were making sincere efforts to switch from a linear production model based on new fossil fuel materials to a more circular, recycling-based approach and found that the companies gave circularity only lip service.

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The lack of higher circularity scores among more of the top 50 polymer producers, according to Index co-author Dominic Charles, was alarming to SBS.

While the analysis concluded that recycling might be a key factor in lowering the carbon footprint of plastics, mechanical recycling has the potential to reduce emissions by 50% when compared to the current practice of producing new polymers from fossil fuels.

Despite being the most often recycled plastic, just 13% of plastic beverage bottles are really manufactured from recycled resources.

The analysis comes as regulations against single-use plastics are being negotiated, including a global agreement through the UN Environment Assembly. But at the moment, these initiatives are also insufficient to stop the stream of plastic.

The report focuses on the three themes of reducing the production of plastics from fossil fuels, increasing the number of plastic products designed to be circular, and reducing plastic pollution in the environment.

It makes several recommendations for what policymakers, polymer producers, investors, and other companies in the plastics supply chain could do to change that.

Single-Use Plastic Production Surged in 2021

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Specifically, Forrest advocated for a polymer premium on each new kilogram of plastic produced using fossil fuels. Other ideas included setting a 2030 deadline for single-use plastics to contain 20 percent recycled material and creating a fund to aid nations that are particularly overrun with plastic trash in managing cleanup and processing.

While Charles told SBS that “our research provides the evidence that legislators need to develop meaningful industry regulation on a global scale, it should also serve as a guide for businesses on the need for a higher level of transparency on their ambitions and actions related to plastics circularity.

Vishal Rana

Vishal is working as a Content Editor at Enviro360. He covers a wide range of topics, including media, energy, weather, industry news, daily news, climate, etc. Apart from this, Vishal is a sports enthusiast and loves to play cricket. Also, he is an avid moviegoer and spends his free time watching Web series and Hollywood Movies.

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