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EPA - Trash Free Waters


Rethinking Plastic Packaging – How Can Innovation Help Solve the Plastic Waste Crisis? September 21, 2020 Our dependence on plastics, particularly plastic packaging, has generated an enormous amount of plastic waste that is accumulating in the oceans at an alarming rate. A new study by Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ, Ltd. estimates that by 2040, if current trends continue, the amount of plastic waste released globally into the oceans will triple to nearly 32 million tons per year. According to Pew, this is the equivalent of dumping 110 pounds of plastic on every meter of coastline around the world. Plastic waste in the environment persists for hundreds to thousands of years and creates serious risks for wildlife, their habitats, and humans. About 40% of all plastic produced is used for disposable packaging, which is the single largest market for plastic materials. In response to growing concern about the plastic waste crisis, some businesses have been working to develop more sustainable types of plastic packaging. Others are creating and promoting the use of new materials that can serve as substitutes for plastic packaging. The sections below provide some examples of innovative new plastic and non-plastic materials that companies are developing in the hopes that they will help alleviate the plastic waste problem. However, each comes with its own set of tradeoffs and challenges. Ultimately, the most effective way to reduce waste from plastic packaging is to use less packaging in the first place. That is why several companies are creating new systems for utilizing reusable containers to distribute food and consumer goods. Several examples of new reuse models are described below.

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