Apr 2

Plastics Weekly: Plastic Substitutes Key To Pollution Fight – UNCTAD

Editorial Staff
Feb 6, 2023

Welcome to the Plastics Weekly, NEO’s regular news monitoring of the plastics industry.

This week’s highlights:

  • Scaling up plastic substitutes is key to tackling plastic pollution, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Economic Development. Nature is full of sustainable alternatives to plastics, says UNCTAD, and two thirds of global exports of plastic substitutes are in the form of raw materials, mostly from developing countries. This presents an opportunity for companies in developed countries to invest in developing countries to bolster their technology and skills. (UNCTAD) 
  • While biodegradable plastics have been offered as a solution to plastic waste, they may actually do more harm than good. Production capacity for plant-derived and biodegradable products is set to triple over the coming five years to 6.3 million metric tonnes, according to the industry association European Bioplastics. But with polymer consumption predicted to double by 2040, the issue of high emissions from bioplastics production should become a key area of focus. (Bloomberg)
  • Can plastics become more sustainable? In an Economist Impact webinar, sponsored by Plastics Europe, panellists discussed how the stability of the plastics industry could be ensured without compromising on sustainability. The discussion had six key takeaways: 1) The energy crisis is putting pressure on the plastics value chain; 2) Regulation needs to be technology- and material-neutral; 3) Availability of renewable energy is key to the plastics transition; 4) Plastics waste needs to be seen as valuable to drive behaviour change; 5) Chemical and mechanical recycling are complementary; 6) There is no single solution that makes the plastics industry more sustainable. (Economist Impact)
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