Plastic Pollution: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Circular Economy Solution

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2023-05

Authors

Merritt, Jillian

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Abstract

In the coming decades, plastic production is expected to grow exponentially. On a global scale, we currently do not have sufficient waste management infrastructure or recycling capabilities to support the disposal of plastic products. As a result, most discarded plastic is placed in a landfill, incinerated, or makes its way into the natural environment. The production of plastic, manufacturing of plastic products, and disposal of plastic goods and packaging has serious impacts on the environment, ecosystems, and human health. Implementation of a circular economy model is a feasible solution to the plastics pollution problem. Under this economic model, products are reused and regenerated into new products, so the waste stream is eliminated. However, a circular economy solution will require cooperation between industry, governments, and scientific researchers. Each entity has different motivations and limitations, so the transition to a circular economy will require collaboration and mutual beneficence. From my research, there are three main barriers to the implementation of a circular economy. In existing discourse, there are few discussions about the differences in implementation across different countries, as solutions will vary depending on the location. Additionally, there is a need for industry to buy-in to circular economy principles such as Extended Producer Responsibility and Deposit Return Systems. Finally, there must be increased awareness and education about the benefits of a circular economy solution.

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