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Google with guide to circularity for plastics

The Internet company has published the report "Closing the plastics circularity gap" together with the firm Afara.

According to the authors, the study aims to show ways in which plastics can be made more circular and "highlight economic opportunities and challenges for a future in which plastics remain part of the economy." To do this, they are taking a look at the six polymers ABS, PC, PET, PE, PS and PP, as these together are said to account for 86 percent of global plastics demand. Of some 276 million metric tons of plastics produced annually, only 21 million metric tons, or 7 percent, re-enter the plastics chain as recyclate, according to the study. The authors refer to the growing total volume of plastics compared to recyclates as the circular economy gap in plastics. The report identifies three scenarios, "business as usual," "greener future," a combination of strong policies with behavioral and attitudinal changes, and the "disconnected societies" scenario, characterized by increasing political and economic fragmentation. With five strategic actions, the circular economy gap for plastics could be closed by 59 percent by 2040 in the business-as-usual scenario, according to the report. Under the other two scenarios, the "greener future" scenario and the "disconnected societies" scenario, the gap could be reduced by 62 and 54 percent, respectively, by that time. Seven areas of intervention to impact volumes and reduce the gap in the short term are identified by the study: collection programs and services, consumer incentives to recycle and reuse, consumer incentives to reduce, recycling and reuse education and awareness, reduction education and awareness, inventory management, and mechanical recycling. At the same time, he said, measures need to be taken now to help close the gap in the circular economy for plastics in the medium and long term. In the view of those involved in the study, these include recycling-friendly design, chemical recycling and a tax on the production of virgin plastics. However, this comes at a price, the authors calculate: A business-as-usual scenario would require investments of $544 billion. In the "Greener Future" scenario, the investment would be $517 billion, and in the third "Disconnected Societies" scenario, $426 billion.



  • (Oct. 4, 2022)
  • Photo: Fotolia

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