Today, just 2pc of the plastic on the global market is being turned into new packaging.
And Ireland is a big offender, ranked at the top of European Union countries as the biggest producer of plastic waste in Europe, according to recent Eurostat figures.
Last month in Dublin frustration literally spilled on to the streets when campaign group VOICE dumped non-recyclable plastic at the gates of the Dáil.
However, there are signs that attitudes towards plastics are about to change.
In Ireland supermarket chain Iceland announced that it will introduce biodegradable packaging on own-brand products within five years.
Elsewhere, the European Commission announced its plastics strategy in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, France made the ambitious commitment to recycle 100pc of all plastics by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Dozens of other regulatory measures have been introduced by cities, countries, and international institutions over the past months, the WEF maintain.
In addition, industry is also taking action.
Corporate giant Unilever has pledged to use 100pc reusable, recyclable or compost-able plastic packaging by 2025.
And during the 2018 World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced that 10 more brands, retailers and packaging companies have made a similar commitment. There is growing pressure to find a solution.
But the WEF argues that other action by actors within the system is required.
“Businesses, in particular, could do four things to accelerate the shift towards a circular economy for plastics, keeping them as a valuable material in the economy and out of the ocean,” the WEF said.
Firstly, the WEF argue that companies investing in ways of delivering products to people without generating plastics waste can not only help to solve the problem of plastics, but also take advantage of what it says is a $10bn global opportunity.
Secondly, the WEF argues that more companies who put plastic packaging on the market should design the packaging with a view to what will happen after the consumer is done with using it.
In doing this, the WEF advise that companies should follow the lead of brands which have already committed to use 100pc reusable, recyclable or compost-able plastic packaging.
Thirdly, the WEF say that businesses need to define collaboratively a “Global Plastics Protocol” to provide themselves with common direction and definitions, as the current system is “too lenient and ambiguous”, the body argues.
“Terms such as “bioplastic” or “recyclable” can create confusion, and, in the worst-case scenario, constitute a safe haven for greenwashing,” the WEF said.
“Such a protocol could also help industry align on material choices, guaranteeing that only compatible materials that can either be recycled, reused or safely biodegraded make the final list,” it said.
Finally, the WEF suggest that “constructive” dialogue between businesses and policymakers is a prerequisite to progress on the matter.
The international organisation for public-private co-operation said that business leaders need to engage positively with governments on the required policies to shift the system.
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