The report proposes a systems change to address the causes of plastic pollution, starting by reducing problematic and unnecessary plastic use, redesigning the system, products and their packaging and combining these with a market transformation towards circularity in plastics. This can be achieved by accelerating three key shifts – reorient and diversify, reuse, and recycle, – and actions to deal with the legacy of plastic pollution.
Significant reduction in the use of plastic can be achieved e.g. by redesigning the way in which products deliver their function to society, e.g. substituting dry products for liquified ones so we do not need to transport water (and the products can then be packed in simpler materials).
Reuse refers to the transformation of the ‘throwaway economy’ to a ‘reuse society’ where reusing products and refilling them makes more economic sense than throwing them away.
Reorient and diversify refers to shifting the market towards sustainable alternatives, which will require a shift in the way products and packaging are produced, consumer demand, regulatory frameworks and costs. Finally, as a complement to the other solutions, the report also discusses the importance of ensuring that where plastics are produced, they are designed to be recyclable in the market where they are sold, and that waste management and the recycling market become more viable ventures. Today, only nine percent of plastics produced are mechanically recycled.
The report highlights that these solutions are available now and that a systems change, underpinned by the necessary regulatory instruments, will result in a range of economic benefits and reduce damage to human health, the environment and the climate.