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Our Global Plastic Problem

Our Global Plastic Problem

While we bring clean energy solutions to our customers, we are committed to the bigger picture of sustainability. Keep reading to learn about the global plastic problem, and what actions are necessary to reinvent the way we live our daily lives. 

Plastic Free July Movement

This month is Plastic Free July, a global movement that encourages people to be a part of the solution to plastic pollution. This month, we are focusing on raising awareness about unsustainable plastic consumption via our social media platforms. Follow along on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to see how our employees are reducing their plastic usage.  

U.S. Plastic Consumption

Plastic is everywhere in our modern lives because of three reasons: It is cheap, easily produced, and extremely durable. These advantages make plastic attractive to both corporations and consumers. While plastic is used in countless supply chains and products, the most pressing challenge today is the sheer amount of plastic packaging and single-use food service waste consumed every day. This category of plastic waste accounts for 16 billion of the 37 billion tons of plastic consumed annually in the U.S.  

Only 28% of plastic from packaging and food services is recovered in the U.S. In comparison, Germany recovers around 90% of these types of plastics. We are unnecessarily filling our landfills with 11 billion tons of plastic every year.  

Reduce, Reuse and RECYCLE

When it comes to plastic waste, the precept Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is central. Our efforts to reduce our plastic consumption and reuse when possible are essential to a greater global effort. 

However, recycling is emphasized as the recovery of U.S plastic packaging and foodservice plastic could yield about two to four billion dollars per year. There is an evident trend that exists between sustainable practices and economic benefits. We have seen this with recycling solar panels as well. However, recycling poses significant challenges in the U.S, of which consumer behavior and access to recycling services are most prevalent. Even I will admit that recycling plastics is simply confusing.

Plastic Policies

This leads me to discuss the necessary policies that countries must adopt to divert from the current projection of 90-million-tons of plastic in our oceans by 2030. 

Imposing taxes on plastic bags and other products like soda bottles and plastic coffee cup lids is key to reducing the number of single-use plastics in our landfills. In Portugal, the producer is taxed 0.12 cents per plastic bag, and Denmark taxes varying rates depending on the primary plastic content of items. 

Adopting product standardslike U.S regulations on the concentration of heavy metals in products, is necessary to educate the public on the harmful environmental impacts of plastics. 

Finally, the implementation of Extended Product Usability (EPR) will hold manufacturers accountable for the entire lifespan of plastic by mandating the recycling and recovery of plastics. This policy is effective in Germany, with a central packing registry, recycling targets, and incentives for ecological packaging. 

What’s Next

In short, we have a lot to learn from Europe when it comes to reducing our dependence on plastic. There is no one solution to our plastic problem, however. A huge part of making strides in the right direction is through national and subnational government involvement. But do not underestimate your own actions. We encourage you to set a personal goal for plastic-free July and use your voice to spread the word about this movement! 

Visit plasticfreejuly.org to get involved, and let us know how you are reducing your plastic consumption on social media!