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The way plastics are produced and consumed today is unsustainable. These processes create large amounts of unnecessary and mismanaged waste, pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, undermining global climate targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Charlotte Williams, the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of our member Econic, co-authored an article published in the international journal Nature presenting a roadmap on how to deliver a circular carbon and plastics economy that minimises carbon dioxide emissions. The roadmap outlines different pathways that maximise the recirculation of CO2 between plastic waste and feedstocks, including mechanical, chemical and biological recycling, and those involving biomass and CO2.

The article describes four scenarios of which only one achieves sufficient greenhouse gas savings in line with global climate targets. This scenario requires:

·        50% reduction in future plastic demand.
·        Complete phase-out of fossil-derived plastics.
·        95% recycling rates of retrievable plastics and use of renewable energy.

However, the authors acknowledge that bringing this scenario to life is challenging. In line with this, they present a roadmap outlining the scale and timing of the economic and legal interventions that could potentially support this. Assessing the service lifespan and recoverability of plastic products, along with considerations of sufficiency and smart design, can provide design principles to guide future manufacturing, use and disposal of plastics.

Read the full article here.