Firms Trying To Reduce Plastic Waste Hit By Global Recycling Issue: Expert

Following the much talked about Paris global environmental summit, there has been a growing awareness about the harmful effects of plastic. There are also concerns among regulators, government, people and even among some companies about the threat posed to the environment form single use plastics that such as soft drink bottles which simply get dumped after use and can harm the environment unless recycled.

This has created awareness among the common public about the issue as they grow more environmentally conscious and shun the use of single-use plastics. At the same time, companies have also started to include more of plastic recycled from waste plastic for packaging of products that require plastic.

However, a recent report from the Credit Suisse’s head of environmental, social and governance research for Australia has claimed that those companies that are agreeable of using recycled plastic are faced with a “fundamental issue” — that of adequate polices for plastic recycling in the countries where they operate or manufacture and package.

“The (fast moving consumer goods companies’) response is really focusing on recycled content — they’ve set targets globally, to achieve at least 30 percent recycled content in all their plastic packaging,” Phineas Glover said in a television interview at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong on Thursday.

“Some of it we just can’t recycle at the moment … Many nations just haven’t developed their own plastic recycling policies,” he said while referring to overall plastic waste.

That problem has been made acute further by China putting in a ban on the imports of waste globally. As late as last year, China was the largest importer of waste in the world – importing various kinds of trash from various parts of the world. It was a year ago that the Chinese authorities put a ban on imports of 24 types of waste. The aim of this move was to make the country cleaner.

It was back in the 1980s, when China was trying to boost its manufacturing sector that it had began importing of waste from different parts of the world – especially form the western countries where large waste was produced. A new and unique waste processing and recycling industry cropped up in the country because of this importing product. However this also resulted in China turning out to be a major polluter because of inefficient handling of imported waste and a dearth of effective supervision by regulators.

Glover added that those countries that depended on their waste being exported out of the country – especially to China, found themselves in a spot ob bother following the imposition of the ban on imports of trash, and in the words of Glover, the systems in trash exporting countries has now “basically short-circuited”. And since many countries do not have any national level policy for plastic recycling, the Chinese ban has compounded the problem globally.

Describing the dumping of pollutants in the sea as “pretty worrying trend”, Glover said that by 2025, 194 million tons of pollutants is projected to be in the ocean. Unless countries do something about the waste problem, that number is only set to grow, he predicted.

(Adapted from CNBC.com)

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