Plastic pollution: synthetic solutions
In the latest Viewfinder, Director Ana Carloto O’Shea takes stock of solutions for plastic pollution: and finds them wanting.
Key takeaways include:
A circular economy for plastics fed by a glut of hydrocarbons is a fool’s paradise. The price differential between virgin supply and recovered material has to be narrowed, not widened.
Investors and insurers, like consumers, have taken comfort in confining their focus to the visible spectrum of plastics. Policy must take on the true price for plastics and end-of-life solutions.
More than most industries, profitability and effectiveness will depend not on the innate qualities of ‘solutions’ but the system they sit in and how second-order effects, like ‘plastic leakage’, are mitigated.
The wicked complexity of the plastic pollution debate and the limitations of proposed solutions means there are no silver bullets. The foreseeable future consists of patchwork systems that reflect prevailing regional conditions, until dominant models emerge.