Plastic waste is a problem – but some solutions are even worse
Plastics have done wonders for hygiene and human health. We need to fix the waste problem – but don’t throw out the baby with the bath tub
AS LEARNED commissions debate whether to declare a new human-dominated era of geological time – the Anthropocene – we are already making facts on and under the ground.
Since plastics were widely introduced in the 1950s, we have dumped an estimated 4.9 billion tonnes into the environment. Most goes to landfill for future generations to unearth. But it is marine waste that has spurred public desire for action. Images from the BBC documentary Blue Planet II of marine wildlife snared by plastics are a visceral indictment of our throwaway culture. Claims that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, made at the World Economic Forum in 2016, have great power to shock.
The new focus is to be welcomed. It has caused many companies and individuals to reconsider their use of plastics, and empowered many to think that they can make a positive difference to the planet.
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