Jean-Marc Boursier, Group Senior Executive Vice President in charge of Recycling & Recovery Europe at Suez declared that Europe produces 50 million tonnes of plastic waste each year. Less than one third is recycled and 93% of new plastic is made from virgin materials.
According to Greenpeace, only 9% of the plastic produced since the 1950’s has been recycled, which means that the majority of plastic waste has simply been dumped in landfills.
The problem is that even in landfills, the wind carries it onto rivers and oceans.
Indeed, every year, major rivers around the world are estimated to bring1.15-2.41 million tons of plastic into the ocean.
The need to manage our waste is therefore a major challenge, as the European Commission (EC) underlined in its work programme 2018-2020.
Furtheremore, on January 2018, the EC adopted its European strategy for plastics. As part of this strategy, the European Union is committed to making recycling profitable for businesses. Therefore, new rules need to be developed to increase the demand for recycled plastic. The French government has also set the goal of recycling 100% plastics by 2025.
Until the 1960’s, companies were focused on maximizing profit, regardless of the excessive exploitation of raw materials. Today, however, companies operate in a much more complex environment and have to obey to environmental regulations. They are also increasingly aware of the opportunities offered by the circular economy and they have opened up to the potential revenues it offers.
However, despite the fact that plastic waste is a commodity which is traded on the global market, for the moment, recycling in France is currently limited and inefficient. Indeed, a recent study by the French Agency for Energy Development and Management showed that, in France, the amount of plastic waste far exceeds the total of plastics recycled annually.
Despite the potential attractiveness of circular economy, only 46% of French plastic manufacturing companies have ever used recycled plastic.
The three reasons for this are : the difficulty of knowing where to source plastic waste and knowing its technical characteristics ; the lack of information on regulations and the fact that 28% don’t believe that the use of recycled materials will help them gain market share.
The ultimate goal is intersectoral collaboration. It’s about helping companies identify opportunities to minimize waste and create efficiencies. The objective would clearly be to implement a true, local, circular economy.
But what could we all do, on a daily basis to help tackling the problem of plastic waste ?
We all have seen disturbing pictures of floating garbages in the ocean or beaches covered with plastic waste.
Our future depends on what we do now to address this very real and visible threat.
So, here is what you can do on a daily basis to help me protect the ocean from being filled with plastic.
- When you go shopping, you could bring a reusable bag to avoid single-use plastic bags.
- Having an aluminium water bottle in your bag is a good idea, since most restaurants will agree to refill it for free !
- When in a café, please refuse plastic straws. They are used a few seconds, they are mostly useless and you can be sure they will end up in the ocean, in the nose of a turtle or in the belly of a seabird, killing them slowly…. ☹
- You could have your own cup that you could bring to work or to cafés. Indeed, even paper cups are often lined with plastic.
- Having a fork, knife and spoon in your bag or in your car to avoid using disposable ones is also a good idea.
- Washing your clothes with a lower heat helps reduce the release of microfibers.
- Unfortunately, make up products with microbeads are made of plastic which will end up in the water. Also, do you really want to put plastic on your skin ? A better solution is to use coffee or sugar with oil to scrub your skin. It’s very efficient and cheaper !
- Glitter is plastic. It’s toxic for you and it pollutes.
- Unlike plastic packaging, glass containers can be recycled indefinately, so if you can, you could choose products in glass containers over similar products in plastic packages. Also, even better is to bring your reusable containers and buy from bulk bins. You could also bring your reusable container when buying pastry in a French boulangerie.
- Another waste which is very often found on beaches is disposable lighters. Why not invest in a fancy refillable one instead ?
- The same is true with disposable razers. A fancy metallic one is much nicer (and does the job better) than a disposable plastic one. Also you’re saving money !
- Another waste which is everywhere in the ocean is plastic toothbrush. You can buy bamboo toothbrushes instead.
- If you’re throwing a party, real cups are way classier than disposable plastic ones.
- One of the best way for your health and for the environment is to wash your body is to buy real Marseille soap. One of the best brand that ships everywhere is Marius Fabre.
- Same goes with washing your clothes. Simple ‘chips’ of Marseille soap are very efficient, you won’t get allergies and they don’t pollute the environment. They are especially good if you have kids.
- On the website of your town, you will find out if you are correctly sorting your waste.
- Finally, please communicate what you do so that other people can change their habits and protect this beautiful environment that is our home ! There are many ways to do so : simply discussing with your friends and neighbours, writing to companies and to shops to request that they downsize their packaging etc…
Here is a good picture showing how you can help reduce plastic pollution. Unfortunately, I don’t know who created this image, but if you know please tell me so that I can add their name!
My husband and I are expecting our first child and we truly hope he/she (surprise !) will have the pleasure to swim in a clean ocean, to see turtles and dolphins, as we did.
Every little act counts ! We can do it all together ! Thank you very much for your well-needed support ! 😊