Refill stores and bottle deposit schemes: Inside the UN goal to cut plastic pollution by 80% by 2040


A new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that plastic pollution could be slashed by 80 per cent by 2040, if major policy changes and existing technologies are deployed in the way we produce, use and dispose of plastics.

The report, titled “A New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics”, outlines a range of measures that could be taken to reduce plastic pollution, including:

  • Eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastics
  • Promoting refillable bottles, bulk dispensers, deposit-return-schemes and packaging take-back schemes
  • Making recycling more stable and profitable
  • Shifting to a circular economy in plastic

The report also estimates that shifting to a circular economy in plastic would result in almost €1.8 trillion in savings, considering costs and recycling revenues. The knock-on benefits for health, climate, air pollution, marine ecosystems and costs related to lawsuits would be even greater at more than €3 trillion.

The report comes ahead of talks in Paris from 29 May to 2 June, when countries will negotiate a global treaty aimed at tackling plastic waste. The report warns that a five-year delay in concrete action may lead to an increase of 80 million metric tons of plastic pollution by 2040.

What can you do to help?

There are a number of things you can do to help reduce plastic pollution, including:

  • Bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping
  • Use a reusable water bottle
  • Say no to plastic straws
  • Recycle plastic whenever possible
  • Support businesses that are taking steps to reduce plastic pollution

By taking these small steps, you can make a big difference in the fight against plastic pollution.

What else can be done?

In addition to individual action, there are a number of things that governments and businesses can do to help reduce plastic pollution. These include:

  • Investing in research and development of new technologies to reduce plastic production and improve recycling rates
  • Putting a price on plastic pollution to encourage businesses to reduce their use of plastic
  • Regulating the use of plastic in packaging and other products
  • Educating the public about the problem of plastic pollution and how they can help to reduce it

By working together, we can create a world where plastic pollution is no longer a problem.

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